New guidelines for the application of EU state aid rules to the broadband sector

The European Commission adopted new Broadband Guidelines that intends to help Member States achieve the objectives of the EU Digital Agenda. The new guidelines focus in technological neutrality, ultra-fast broadband networks, step change to connectivity, reinforcement of open access, and transparency.

The European Commission adopted revised guidelines for the application of EU state aid rules to the broadband sector. Among others, they follow the principles of the Commission's State Aid Modernisation (SAM) initiative, which aims at facilitating well-designed aid targeted at market failures in order to achieve growth-enhancing priorities, while simplifying the rules to allow for faster decisions. In June 2012, the Commission launched a public consultation for gathering views to the design of the new guidelines now adopted.

The changes focus on technological neutrality -the new guidelines take into account technological advances, acknowledging that super-fast (Next Generation Access) networks can be based on different technological platforms; Ultra-fast broadband networks to help achieve the Digital Agenda objective of delivering very fast connections (of more than 100 Mbps) to half of European households by 2020; Step change to connectivity to protect private investors; and reinforcement of open access; and transparency, with new provisions regarding the publication of documents, a centralised data base for existing infrastructure and ex post reporting obligations to the Commission have been introduced.

The European Commission adopted the first broadband guidelines in 2009 to facilitate pro-competitive investments. The new guidelines now adopted will enter into force from the first day following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. The Commission may review the new guidelines on the basis of future important market, technological and regulatory developments.