Monday, November 23, 2009

European Parliament Approves New Telecom Rules

The European Parliament approved a major overhaul of EU telecoms rules by 510 votes to 40, with 24 abstentions. The new rules, which are expected to be implemented over the next 18 months, are aimed at strengthening the rights of phone users and Internet surfers and boosting competition among telecoms firms.

"This legislative package is a prime example of how the work we are doing as European legislators has an impact on the daily life of citizens. I am delighted that we have contributed to strengthening the rights of users of electronic communications and the internet." said EP President Jerzy Buzek.

The telecoms directive includes rules to:

  • harmonise radio spectrum management across the EU, especially with a view to the switchover from analogue to digital TV by 2012,

  • improve co-operation among Member States' telecoms regulators, and

  • allow "functional separation", i.e. rules requiring dominant operators to separate their network infrastructure from business units offering services that use this infrastructure.

  • improve consumer rights, e.g. by allowing customers to have their mobile telephone number transferred within one working day when changing operators,

  • strengthen personal data and privacy protection, e.g. by requiring the user's consent to the use of cookies.

MEPs also agreed with the EU's telecommunications ministers to set up a European body bringing together all 27 national regulators - the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).