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EU telecoms super-regulator starts work

Berec will advise the EC on areas such as next-generation broadband access, net neutrality and universal service obligations
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

A new pan-European telecommunications regulatory body, which will help set the agenda for broadband access and mobile communications, has begun work.

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (Berec), created last year in the Telecoms Reform package, met on Thursday to elect a chairman. The group is currently based in Brussels, while it decides on a permanent home. Its remit is to advise the European Commission on telecoms regulation such as next-generation broadband access (NGA), net neutrality and universal service obligations.

Berec's establishment was "an important milestone for telecoms in Europe", outgoing information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding said in a statement.

"The new body will help national telecoms regulators and the European Commission to provide consistent rules and competitive conditions across the EU," Reding said on Thursday. "This will boost European telecoms services, which are evolving rapidly in areas like mobile internet and can become a major driver of economic recovery in Europe."

While formulating the Telecoms Reform Package, Reding had been keen on creating a super-regulator that could overrule national regulators, but was forced to water down her proposals following resistance from the national regulators.

Berec comprises the heads of the national telecoms regulators of the 27 EU countries. It replaces a looser grouping of those regulators called the European Regulators Group (ERG). While the ERG did not play a part in EU regulation, the Commission is required to seek formal opinions from Berec when formulating telecoms regulation.

The group will also "advise, support and complement the independent work of national telecoms regulators, especially when it comes to regulatory decisions with cross-border aspects," the statement read.

"The formation of Berec is a major step forward and will improve the consistency and quality of regulation across the EU," Ofcom chief Ed Richards said in a statement on Thursday.

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