EU Parliament gives final approval to telecom package

European Parliament has formally approved the EU’s telecoms reform package at its plenary session in Strasbourg, proposed by the Commission in November 2007. This new rules will give new rights to European consumers, and it will streghten competition on Europe's telecoms markets.

500 million EU citizens will soon benefit from more consumer choice through enhanced competition on Europe’s telecoms markets, from better coverage with fast internet broadband connections across Europe, and from a stronger entrenchment of their right to privacy with regard to telecoms operators.

European consumers will also enjoy a substantial number of new rights, such as the right to switch fixed or mobile operator in one working day while keeping their number; the right to be better informed about the services they subscribe to; and the right to be informed about data breaches from their telecoms operator. Operators must also give consumers the option of signing a contract which lasts no longer than 12 months.

Under the new EU rules, national telecoms authorities will furthermore have the power to set minimum quality levels for network transmission services so as to promote "net neutrality" for European citizens. In addition, European consumers will see their fundamental rights regarding internet access reaffirmed and strengthened by the telecoms reform. A new internet freedom provision, included in the package at the insistence of the European Parliament, makes clear that in view of the fundamental rights that EU citizens enjoy, including the right to privacy, national authorities cannot restrict internet access for public policy reasons unless there has been a prior, fair and impartial procedure and effective and timely judicial review.

At their vote in Plenary Session on May 6th 2009, MEPs amended a political agreement reached with the Council on the reform of the regulatory framework for electronic communications. The Telecom package includes the revision of the electronic communications framework, the citizens' rights directive and the establishment of a new European body of telecom regulators called BEREC.

The European Parliament’s approval of the reform today follows the political agreement reached on 5 November between Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators. It paves the way for the entry into force of the EU telecoms reform in December this year. Thereafter, Member States have 18 months to transpose the reformed EU Telecoms rules into their national telecoms laws.