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EU's Kroes sets timeline for single telecoms market

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The European Union's digital agenda commissioner, Neelie Kroes, said the creation of a single market for the European telecoms industry is a major priority for the rest of her mandate, and said she is not retiring until she has achieved her goal.

Neelie Kroes

"I'm the same age as Alex Ferguson," said Kroes in a speech delivered to the European Business Summit in Brussels, referring to the former manager of the Manchester United football club in the UK. "But I have no intention of retiring until I've completed this task. Until I've helped all our citizens and businesses capture the digital opportunity. Then we can really get more European players in the global Champions' League."

According to EU Observer, the 71-year-old commissioner is due to leave office in one-and-a-half years--so time is of the essence. Kroes said the EU will soon bring forward its proposals for a single market for telecoms.

The Financial Times recently reported that European regulators plan to publish a blueprint for a single regional telecoms market in June and implement regulations before the end of the year, which is well ahead of original plans. The report said that regulators are working to accelerate plans to create a single market to help push through reforms before the end of European Parliament. The original deadline for publishing the plan had been set for October, but Brussels is keen to speed the process for getting the plan approved before the European Parliament elections in 2014.

Kroes said Europe is we at risk of creating new borders online, even when we spent decades bringing them down in the real world. Barriers to the digital single market are barriers to growth. I'm determined to knock them down wherever I find them."

Kroes added that she believes the single market is Europe's crown jewel, and said the online world should be the natural new home for that single market. "Currently, consumers and businesses have their choice limited to what's on offer locally," she said. "Operators can't serve an EU-wide market. So they can't reach the size and scale to invest, innovate and compete globally."

Kores said that while today businesses find roaming charges "a costly irritant" it will be worse as machine-to-machine communications continue to proliferate.

"But imagine a Europe where operators can provide digital services across the whole EU, wherever they are based," she said. "Where telecoms users can enjoy those same services, wherever they live or work. Offering a boost for the whole Internet ecosystem--from operators to equipment makers to app designers. And for the whole economy besides. Because we need companies to smash barriers, think European, and compete globally: even against the American giants."

For more:
- see this release
- see this EU Observer article

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