The European Commission has today released a Working Document, constituting a formal Call for Input on the forthcoming review of the European Union regulatory framework for electronic communications, and including the review of the Recommendation on Relevant Markets Susceptible to Ex-Ante Regulation.

A public workshop will be organised on 24 January 2006, and written contributions from interested parties are due by 31 January 2006.

The full text of the Call for Input can be accessed by clicking here.

T-REGS Notes:

As expected, this Call for Input studiously avoids suggesting any particular position on the part of the European Commission. The questions relating to possible adjustments to the EU Directives fit on only two pages, and only half a page is used to address the questions relating to the review of the Recommendation.

Tangible proposals will be presented by the European Commission in mid-2006, after this round of public consultation has been completed. Detailed legislative proposals, and the adoption of a revised Recommendation, are scheduled for the end of 2006.

A few highlights from the Call for Input are as follows:

The European Commission repeatedly asks how the regulatory framework can be improved, which clearly points to an intention not to comprehensively modify the framework, but rather to make adjustments. However, this does not preclude major changes being proposed in due course by the Commission and during the process at the Council and European Parliament.

In the more detailed questions, the European Commission asks, amongst others, whether changes in technology, markets and society, call into question the very scope of the framework, and whether current objectives need to be changed or prioritised. Questions also address whether technological development and convergence can be adequately accommodated (this is an implicit reference to VoIP, IPTV, triple/quadruple play, etc.).

The Commission also solicits comments about potentially deepening or strengthening the internal market (in areas such as authorisations, numbering and spectrum policy), and about remaining barriers to consolidating the single market.

As regards the institutional aspects, key questions are asked about the strengths and weaknesses of the current Article 7 consultation procedures (this is an implicit reference to the scope of the European Commission's own involvement in defining markets, SMP assessment, and development and selection of regulatory obligations) and about the functioning of the institutionalized harmonization (CoCom, RSC, RSPG and ERG).

Other aspects, such as competition and access regulation, consumer protection, privacy and security, standards and interoperability, the necessity to maintain the minimum set of leased lines, etc. are also the subject of explicit requests for input.

The Call for Input on the review of the Recommendation on Relevant Markets Susceptible to Ex-Ante Regulation is very simply expressed as follows:

- Are there markets listed in the Recommendation which should be withdrawn or modified?

- Are there markets which should be added to the list in the Recommendation?

- Should the 3 criteria, which are used to determine which markets may warrant ex-ante regulation, be adjusted?

For a detailed discussion of this consultation process, expected positions of interested parties including the institutional actors, and lobbying opportunities, please contact Yves Blondeel.