European Commission denies split over single telecoms regulator

The issue of whether there should be a single telecoms regulator for the European Union is in the news again after a media report suggested that this is a rather fraught point at the European Commission.

Almunia

Long-time observers of European telecoms regulation will recall that as long ago as 2006, then EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding called for one single regulator to replace the existing system of 25 (at that time) national regulators.

Fast forward to 2013, and plans unveiled by the EU's digital commissioner, Neelie Kroes, call for a single telecoms market by 2014 appear to stop short at proposing a single telecoms regulator.

Then this week, a report in the Financial Times claimed that Joaquín Almunia, the EU's antitrust commissioner, had been openly critical of Kroes' plans in a document secured by the paper, saying the "suboptimal" measures proposed by Kroes "lack ambition" and calling for a pan-European regulator to replace the national regulators in the now 28 member states of the EU.

The European Commission has played down the reports about friction between its commissioners. Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd told FierceWireless:Europe that the document referred to in the report appears to be an earlier draft, stems from the Directorate General for Competition (DG COMP) and "forms part of the normal preparatory process for any policy or legislative initiative being prepared by the Commission."

Todd added that the ideas proposed for a single telecoms market by Neelie Kroes in June have so far received strong support from the EU commissioners. He noted that Kroes' team is currently finalising the draft legal instrument, taking into account the inputs received. "We cannot therefore comment on the substance of the arguments in the article, which apparently refers to an earlier draft," Todd said.

The College of Commissioners is due to adopt the proposals on Sept. 10. "Until such time as there is a final Commission proposal we will of course not comment on the details," Todd concluded.

Whether or not a single regulator will be included in the final proposal remains to be seen, but clearly nothing can be ruled out at this stage, as Kroes continues to receive feedback from fellow commissioners.

"It is a logical step. It does make sense,"  Informa Telecoms & Media analyst Dario Talmesio told BBC News.

For more:
- see this Financial Times article (sub. req.)
- see this BBC News article

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