Not quite murder on the dance floor, but murder in the committees, according to one observer.
It looks like the European Parliament could take a knife to parts of the proposed Telecoms Regulation (Connected Continent) if not its entirety. Iptegrity has followed the discussion in two committees this week – IMCO and ITRE - and it was abundantly clear that the Parliament does not like this proposal. Not quite murder perhaps, but elements of the proposal could be killed off.
The Parliament is accusing the Commission of failing to consult, rushing the timing, and overall making something of dogs breakfast, the full title of which is the 'Proposal on a European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent'l. One target for removal is the Commission’s attempt at what looks market consolidation.
Basically, in the Parliament’s opinion, the timing is unacceptable. The Commission, in its attempt to get something in place before the June 2014 European elections, has rushed the proposals. The Commission admitted this in the ITRE meeting. In commission-speak, it had a ‘relatively short gestation period’ and the process was managed in an ‘accelerated form’.
That means the Parliament has to be ready for a plenary vote in April. For a massive piece of legislation of this type, that is really pushing it.
The Commission is accused of failing to undertake a stakeholder consultation. This is indicated also in the Parliament’s appraisal of the Impact Assessment (see New telecoms rules: EU Commission had no time to consult ) .
In the ITRE committee, the rapporteur, Pilar del Castillo, said: “This committee has been critical from the beginning when Commissioner Kroes came to present it. It has been done in such a short space of time, the Commission has rushed ahead. The text itself is incredibly complicated.”
Another big complaint relates to the changes in market structure that are implied in the new Telecoms Regulation. It is widely being interpreted as a proposal that would encourage consolidation among ISPs, and therefore would favour the larger ones. The Commission’s rationale seems very odd. It suggests that we have too many ISPs and the market is too fragmented. For economic reasons, it says, we need fewer. This seems to contradict policy to date, that has been designed to encourage competition.
Malcolm Harbour, chair of the IMCO committee and rapporteur for his committee, barely concealed his dislike of the proposal. “You will not be surprised to hear that the Commission’s proposal of fully harmonising in a lot of detail is not something that I find favour with’ he said.
Mr Harbour's colleague, Giles Chichester also challenged the Commission in the ITRE committee, saying that actually there exists an oligopoly of large ISPs already: “the big four operators have 60 % of the market.” he said.
Insiders suggest that Mrs Kroes’ directorate, DG Cnect, had been hoping for the Parliament to rubber-stamp the proposal. Judging by the committee discussions, that does not seem very likely.
Mrs Del Castillo spoke of ‘merits’ in the proposal ‘that we should push forward’.
On that basis, it’s more likely that the Parliament will dump the least acceptable elements of the Telecoms Regulation, and will focus on a small number of priorities – yet to be identified.
Malcolm Harbour made many references to the 2009 Telecoms Package. Anyone who did not follow it in 2009, may find themselves struggling with this one. Happily, there is a book! The Copyright Enforcement Enigma will enlighten you on the events of the 2009 Telecoms Package and the issues that the Committees are now discussing again!
This is an original article from Iptegrity.com and reflects research that I have carried out. If you refer to it or to its content, please cite my name as the author, and provide a link back to iptegrity.com. Media and Academics – please cite as Monica Horten, 2013, EU Parliament threat to knife new telecoms rules in Iptegrity.com 7 November 2013. Commercial users - please contact me.
Telecoms Package - Telecoms Regulation - Connected Continent - EU telecoms rules