EU: national regulators in question
It is an evidence in Europe, the telecom sector is far from harmonized and competition is uneven across the Union. The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) has released a new report to score 17 countries on how far they have implemented the EU' s 2002 rules to open their network to competition. The result is without any ambiguity: many countries have not yet fully implemented the EU rules, 3 years after they came into force. Many examples are cited: Poland as the worst case, but also Germany (the government supporting DT' s project to keep rivals out of its new optical-fiber network) or France for its USO service implementation. ECTA is perfectly in its role to voice on current problems and try to find solutions, and identifies the lack of power of national regulators as the main factor to the current situation. It therefore calls on European countries to give greater powers to their national regulators in order to make the region more globally competitive by 2010. But ECTA also warns that it may back the EU' s quest to create a single "super-regulator" supervising the activities of national regulators. It could be a major boost to EU plans. Let me remind what EU has in mind: the EU telecom commissioner, Viviane Reding has been an advocate for uniform implementation of EU rules across the region, i.e. asking for a single EU regulator; for separating service businesses and networking; for equal treatment for all players. The case will not be easy. National regulators have strongly voiced opposition to what can overrule their decisions, and politicians and the press have raised objections to what appear to transfer further direct control of national bodies to the EU. Caution, mine field.