Kroes: EU telecoms reforms still on track for 2014

The European Union's digital chief, Neelie Kroes said her plans to reform the European Union's fragmented telecoms rules are still on track for 2014 despite some reports that suggested the telecoms reforms had been delayed to 2015.

Neelie Kroes

Following a summit of European Union heads of government in Brussels, Kroes said EU leaders had endorsed the proposals for a telecoms single market "We got the support we wanted and that means we're still on track to get telecoms reform done in 2014," she said in comments emailed by her spokesman Ryan Heath to FierceWireless:Europe.

Dow Jones Newswires had reported that, according to unnamed sources, European leaders pushed back the time frame for adopting proposals to overhaul Europe's telecoms market to 2015 instead of the spring 2014 date targeted by Kroes, who drafted the plans.

However, Heath stressed that the 2015 date refers to wider and longer-term Digital Single Market issues including cybersecurity, eID and eSignatures, data protection, and e-commerce. The more urgent telecoms single market package called "Connected Continent" is still on track for 2014 adoption, he said.

In a statement following the summit, the European Council, which  comprises the heads of state or government of the EU member states, said "overcoming fragmentation, promoting effective competition and attracting private investment through an "improved, predictable and stable EU-wide legal framework is crucial."

The Council said it therefore welcomed the presentation by the Commission of the "Connected Continent" package and "encourages the legislator to carry out an intensive examination with a view to its timely adoption."

The Council particularly stressed the importance of better coordinating the timing and conditions of spectrum assignment, while respecting national competences in this area.

Kroes has been pushing the proposal as "the most ambitious plan in 26 years of telecoms reform." The proposal covers an extremely wide range of issues and topics--from public Wi-Fi to consumer rights--and is intended to replace today's fractured telecom landscape with a  single, unified market for telecoms in Europe. Perhaps the most noteworthy element in Kroes' proposition is the elimination of travelers' incoming calling charges starting next year. All roaming charges would be phased out by 2016. Charges for fixed-line calls would also be restricted.

For more:
- see this Kroes blog post
- see this EU release on comments from Jose Manual Barroso, president of the European Commission
- see this release from the European Council

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