European Commission takes Belgium, Luxembourg to court over telecom regulators

Issues involve competition in telecom sector

The European Commission is dragging Belgium and Luxembourg to court, claiming that regulators in the countries are not operating in accordance with EU rules meant to ensure strong competition in the telecom market.

The Commission claims the Belgian national regulator is not independent. EU rules forbid political interference with national telecom authorities, which are responsible for market regulation and dispute settlement among companies. However, the independence of the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) is not guaranteed, the Commission said Thursday.

Under Belgian law, the country's Council of Ministers can suspend the regulator's decisions. The council is also required to approve the regulator's overall strategy.

"The Commission considers that these elements limit the independence of the BIPT when implementing EU telecom rules and that this can have negative consequences for competition in the sector," it said, adding that an independent regulator is essential to a well-functioning, deregulated market.

To guarantee the regulator's independence, in April the Commission requested that Belgium change the law. Since Belgium has yet to act on that request, the Commission has referred the case to the European Court of Justice for an infringement proceeding.

Meanwhile, Luxembourg was taken to court by the Commission, which claims the country's telecom authority, the Institut Luxembourgeois de Regulation, has failed to carry out a timely analysis of the markets for fixed access to the public telephone network and for leased lines, breaching EU rules.

The failure to carry out a timely analysis of a market may result in unnecessary regulations, which could in turn "lead to negative consequences for investment incentives, for innovation, and for competition in the market," the Commission said.

The last analysis was undertaken in 2007, the Commission noted. While an analysis on leased lines is expected to be completed in November, there is no timetable for an analysis of the market for fixed access.

"Given the significant delays, it is imperative to urge swift completion of the analysis to determine whether these obligations are still justified in view of how competition in the market has developed since," the Commission said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags regulationgovernment

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?