The European Parliament has approved a major overhaul of EU telecoms rules designed to strengthen the rights of phone and internet users, while boosting competition between telecoms firms. The new rules will need to be implemented in national legislation by 24 May 2011.
The revised EU telecoms framework directive was adopted at this third and final reading stage today by 510 votes to 40, with 24 abstentions.
“I am delighted that we have contributed to strengthening the rights of users of electronic communications and the internet. This legislative package is a prime example of how the work we are doing as European legislators has an impact on the daily life of citizens,“ said European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, who will sign the telecoms package on Wednesday in Strasbourg together with Swedish minister for communications Åsa Torstensson.
Internet access safeguards
Internet access safeguards were the main subject of discussion as negotiations concluded earlier this month. MEPs succeeded in retaining a strong defence of internet users’ rights in the final text of the Directive. The wording now ensures that internet users cannot be cut off from the internet arbitrarily or immediately, that their case must be heard and sufficient proof provided that rules have been breached.
The telecoms directive also includes rules to:
– harmonise radio spectrum management across the EU, especially with a view to the switchover from analogue to digital TV by 2012,
– improve co-operation among Member States’ telecoms regulators, and
– allow “functional separation“, ie rules requiring dominant operators to separate their network infrastructure from business units offering services that use this infrastructure.
The directive on citizens’ rights – approved by the Parliament in May, and by the Council of Ministers in October this year – aims to:
– improve consumer rights, eg by allowing customers to have their mobile telephone number transferred within one working day when changing operators,
MEPs also agreed with the EU’s telecommunications ministers to set up a European body bringing together all 27 national regulators – the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).