On 6 May 2015, the new European Commission published its Communication, entitled 'A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe', and an associated Staff Working Document, providing analysis and evidence.
Pillar II of the strategy (Chapter 3 of the Communication) addresses communications networks and services (3.1), audiovisual media (3.2), Internet-based platforms (3.3), and trust and security (3.4) under the overall title of 'Creating the right conditions and a level playing field for advanced digital networks and innovative services'. Pillar II is discussed below; other aspects of the strategy are also of evident importance to stakeholders in the telecoms and Internet sectors.
Chapter 3.1 'Making telecoms rules fit for purpose' (pages 9 and 10) concludes with the following statement and list of planned actions, including the announcement of a review of the 2002/2009 EU regulatory framework for electronic communications (telecommunications):
The Commission will present proposals in 2016 for an ambitious overhaul of the telecoms regulatory framework focusing on (i) a consistent single market approach to spectrum policy and management (ii) delivering the conditions for a true single market by tackling regulatory fragmentation to allow economies of scale for efficient network operators and service providers and effective protection of consumers, (iii) ensuring a level playing field for market players and consistent application of the rules, (iv) incentivising investment in high speed broadband networks (including a review of the Universal Service Directive) and (v) a more effective regulatory institutional framework.
Chapter 3.2 'A media framework for the 21st century' (pages 10 and 11) concludes with the following statement and announcement of a review of the 2010 Audiovisual Media Services Directive:
The Commission will review the Audiovisual Media Services Directive with a focus on its scope and on the nature of the rules applicable to all market players, in particular measures for the promotion of European works, and the rules on protection of minors and advertising rules.
Chapter 3.3 'A fit for purpose regulatory environment for platforms and intermediaries' (pages 11 and 12) concludes with the following statement and announcement of an assessment of the role of Internet platforms in particular:
The Commission will launch before the end of 2015 a comprehensive assessment of the role of platforms, including in the sharing economy, and of online intermediaries, which will cover issues such as (i) transparency e.g. in search results (involving paid for links and/or advertisement), (ii) platforms' usage of the information they collect, (iii) relations between platforms and suppliers, (iv) constraints on the ability of individuals and businesses to move from one platform to another and will analyse, (v) how best to tackle illegal content on the Internet.
Chapter 3.4 'Reinforcing trust and security in digital services and in the handling personal data' (page 12) concludes as follows, with reference to the ongoing legislative process on data protection, and announcing a review of the 2002/2009 e-Privacy Directive:
In the first half of 2016 the Commission will initiate the establishment a Public-Private Partnership on cybersecurity in the area of technologies and solutions for online network security. Once the new EU rules on data protection are adopted, which should be by the end of 2015, the Commission will review the ePrivacy Directive with a focus on ensuring a high level of protection for data subjects and a level playing field for all market players.
T-REGS Note: A public consultation on the review of the electronic communications (telecommunications) framework is expected to be launched in Q4 2015, preceding legislative proposals in 2016.
On 16 Dec 2014, the new European Commission published its Work Programme for 2015. Chapter 2 (page 6) addresses the Connected Digital Single Market. In Annex I, which lists the new legislative initiatives for 2015, at page 2, this is developed in the following terms: 'Digital Single Market (DSM) package: (legislative/non-legislative) - The aim is to ensure that consumers enjoy cross-border access to digital services, create a level playing field for companies and create the conditions for a vibrant digital economy and society. The package will include, among other legislative proposals, the modernisation of copyright.'
T-REGS Note: Read in conjunction with the main body of the document, this implies that legislative proposals aimed at amending the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications will NOT be tabled by the European Commission during the year 2015 (although it is highly likely that a public consultation will be opened on this topic in Q3 or Q4 2015).
In the main body of the text, the Commission states additionally that it will:
a) Aim to conclude the negotiations with the European Parliament and Council (the Member States) on the draft data protection regulation and on the draft connected continent regulation.
b) Propose new legislative and non-legislative initiatives, including '[...] the Commission will notably complement the regulatory telecommunications environment [...]'. T-REGS Note: Given that the English language text is peculiarly worded, we provide the French and German text of the same section: FR: '[...] la Commission s'emploiera notamment à compléter l'environnement réglementaire en matière de télécommunications [...]'. DE: '[...] Geplant sind die Ergänzung des Regulierungsrahmens für des Telekommunikationssektor [...]'.
On 1 Nov 2014, the new European Commission started its 5-year term. President Jean-Claude Juncker issued 'Political Guidelines' which explicitly address telecoms and Internet policy and regulation in Chapter 2: 'A Connected Digital Single Market' and in Chapter 9: 'An Area of Justice and Fundamental Rights Based on Mutual Trust'. President Juncker created a 'Project Team for A Connected Digital Single Market', and also issued 'Mission Letters' to individual Commissioners. The European Parliament published short notes containing the 'commitments' made during the confirmation hearings.
The most relevant Commissioners - for our area of interest - are:
Andrus Ansip: EC Vice-President for the Digital Single Market:
Mission letter: http://tre.gs/ansip
Commitments in European Parliament hearing: Ansip
Günther Oettinger: EC Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society:
Mission letter: http://tre.gs/oettinger
Commitments in European Parliament hearing: Oettinger
Margrethe Vestager: EC Commissioner for Competition:
Mission letter: http://tre.gs/vestager
Commitments in European Parliament hearing: Vestager
Jyrki Katainen: EC Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness:
Mission letter: http://tre.gs/katainen
Commitments in European Parliament hearing: Katainen
T-REGS took detailed notes of the Commissioners' confirmation hearings in the European Parliament, the subsequent pre-confirmation #AskAnsip Twitter chat, Commissioner Ansip's subsequent pre-confirmation blog post elaborations, and Commissioner Oettinger's pre-confirmation statements in the German press.