EU accelerates plans to develop single telecoms market

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, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Neelie Kroes

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.

"We are accelerating our efforts. It's essential for the sector and the wider economy," Neelie Kroes, Europe's digital commissioner, told the Financial Times. "My number one priority in 2013 is making sure we agree with governments the elements needed to deliver a real single market. Then we will use the rest of this Commission term to put as many of those building blocks in place as we can."

It was reported only in March that European leaders had called for the European Commission to publish a plan by October. Details of the planned reforms are not yet clear, but are believed to include proposals to make cross-border mergers easier and to create a single European regulator.

The European telecoms industry body, ETNO, will also make proposals ahead of the June deadline, according to chairman Luigi Gambardella, reported the FT. The report also noted that top executives of the major European operators met with Joaquín Almunia, the EU's competition chief, late last year to discuss the plans. The executives are hoping the reforms will let the market consolidate more easily and help them achieve the kind of cross-border scale they argue is needed to keep up with network infrastructure investments.

Although operators have at times played down the idea of a single market, companies such as Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telecom Italia and Telefónica are interested in creating more consolidation in a crowded and highly competitive market.

For more:
- see this FT article (sub. req.)

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