The European Commission wants to set up a pan-European regulatory authority for the converging IT and telecomms markets, revealed Martin Bangemann, the EC Telecomms Commissioner.
Speaking at this week?s ITU Telecom Interactive 97 show, Bangemann said a new super-regulator would address policy issues surrounding telecomms, computing, the Internet and multimedia. He also said a European Communications Act was needed to lay down consistent rules for infrastructure, services and content.
The Act would certainly place ?new demands? on national regulators, he said. ?While cooperation among national regulatory authorities is currently sufficient, I believe that a single European regulatory authority for communications and media services will be necessary.?
A spokesperson said a European regulator would streamline work needed for operators to enter the European market. Instead of having to deal with 15 individual member states, the operator could deal one just one.
Although Bangemann is known to have favoured the establishment of a super-regulator for some time, this is the first time he has gone public with the proposal.
However, the plan is likely to fall on deaf ears among the EU members. The spokesperson for Bangemann admitted that ?the member states are not keen because they are reluctant to give up any national authority and rights.? A spokesperson for Oftel, the UK?s telecomms watchdog, said a European-wide regulator would be ?unlikely? to be feasible because each country is at different levels of open competition in telecomms, with the UK ahead of most others.
Stephen Young, telecomms competition and regulation analyst at consultancy Ovum, suggested that, instead of installing another layer, the EC could give DG IV - its competition arm - more responsibility for IT and telecomms regulationm, if it received sufficient resources. Technology issues could be handled by other bodies.
Bangemann also said the EC will publish a green paper on the convergence of IT and telecomms this year.
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