BEREC contributes to regulatory transparency in electronic communications
by Dr Leonidas Kanellos, BEREC Chair 2013
A key challenge for policymakers devising regulatory frameworks for electronic communications networks and services is to ensure that the applicable legal regimes remain relevant and fit-for-purpose. In order to foster Europe's prosperity and growth in the world digital economy, regulation needs to be predictable, adaptive and effectively respond to technological and market developments.
Attracting investment in high-speed broadband infrastructures, fixed and wireless, is critical for supporting the delivery of innovative services to all European citizens. In its Digital Agenda for Europe, the European Commission showed its commitment to overcome the investment challenge and make "every European digital", irrespective of geographic location or social and economic condition.
To achieve those ambitious targets, it is necessary to explore and consider all the technological, regulatory and policy issues, pursuing a coherent and consistent approach throughout Europe. In this context, market intelligence and regulatory experience gained from regulation of national electronic communications' markets has to constantly and dynamically interact with policy making at a European level.
In this direction, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) has a major role to play. BEREC was established by Regulation No 1211/2009 as part of the "Telecom Package" which amended the EU directives on electronic communications aiming to contribute to the functioning of the internal market for electronic communications networks and services. It is an independent body whose main role is to advise and assist the European Commission in developing the internal market, to contribute to the quality, coherence and consistency of regulatory approaches, and to form a link between National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and the Commission. BEREC also advices the European Parliament and the Council on matters related to the electronic communications sector.
BEREC is composed of a Board of Regulators, whose members are heads or representatives of the NRAs established in each Member State with primary responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day operation of the national markets. The European Commission and representatives of NRAs in the European Economic Area and EU candidate countries also participate as observers. In its daily work, BEREC is assisted by an Office, a Community Body, which was established with the same Regulation and became operational in 2011.
BEREC has gained visibility by actively participating to the public dialogue with market players and by delivering high quality expert work and advice. Its role towards ensuring adherence of regulatory procedures to the EU rules, through participation in the procedures prescribed under Article 7/7a of the revised Framework Directive, is widely recognized by the market and considered as highly successful by all stakeholders. BEREC has contributed to important policy debates, related to the Digital Agenda, such as the roll-out of next generation access networks, international roaming and net neutrality. The organisational structure of BEREC, based on a bottom-up regulatory model that builds on the collective experience and expertise of the participating NRAs, and the effective support of the Office, are key factors for effectively producing quality results.
Today, BEREC is facing new important challenges. These are reflected in its ambitious Work Programme. Drafted by the Greek regulator (EETT), with the active participation of all national regulators, the programme was adopted, upon prior public consultation with the sector stakeholders.
Consistent with the body's medium-term strategy and with the European Digital Agenda, our joint action comprises three main areas of work, notably (a) boosting the roll-out of Next-Generation Networks, (b) consumer empowerment and protection, and (c) boosting the internal market.
In the first area of work we seek to promote regulatory approaches and practices that enhance competition and provide the right incentives for investment in new, fixed and mobile, high-speed networks. In the second area we address issues such as support for users with disabilities, net neutrality, tariff transparency and quality of service. In the third area we give priority to the implementation of the new Roaming Regulation, seeking to introduce effective competition in the roaming market. We also support the promotion of cross-border services and the development of machine-to-machine communications.
Moreover, in 2013, BEREC will continue to promote quality and consistency of regulatory decisions. It will also engage with EU Institutions in the implementation of the European Regulatory Framework, including important policy initiatives, such as the draft recommendation on cost accounting and non discrimination.
As BEREC Chair 2013, I am committed to work hard, together with my colleagues from all the national regulatory authorities and from the European Commission. Our vision is to facilitate adoption of a more market-driven, cost-effective and citizen-centric regulatory paradigm, which is able to support innovation and growth in the European digital economy. In pursuing such objective, we share the Aristoteles' conception that "quality is not an act, it is a habit".