EC questions independence of Slovenian, Latvian regulators
The European Commission has questioned the standing of Slovenian and Latvian telecoms regulators, due to potential breaches of EU rules.
The Slovenian government may have violated rules that guarantee the independence of telecom regulators when it dismissed the director of regulatory body Agencije za pošto in elektronske komunikacije (APEK) late last year, the Commission said.
EC rules forbid the removal of the heads of telecom regulatory bodies by national authorities except under very strict circumstances, and the Commission is worried that the Slovenian government has too much discretion to do so.
The Commission has also expressed concern about Latvia’s regulatory regime, believing there is a lack of structural separation between regulatory and ownership functions in the country.
The Ministry of Transport currently has power over both telecom regulation and ownership and control functions.
While Latvia has ceded to EC pressure by transferring most regulatory tasks to the Ministry of Regional Development, the Transport ministry retains control over the Electronic Communications Office, the Commission said. That office controls enforcement of spectrum-related regulation.
Because EC rules consider this to be a regulatory matter, the Commission said it feels Latvia's compromise is not enough.
Under European directives, the governments will have two months to submit a reply to the EC's formal queries.
The EC is also conducting investigations into the independence and structural separation of regulators in Slovakia, Romania and Lithuania.
“Independent national regulators are essential for fair and effective regulation in a liberalised European single telecoms market and I will be vigilant to ensure all Member States comply with EU rules to guarantee regulators' independence," digital agenda commissioner Neelie Croes said.