New EU telecoms rules to promote the rapid roll-out of 5G and other next generation network technologies throughout Europe, spur cutting-edge innovation and strengthen consumer protection in the area of electronic communications were adopted by the Council today. The two pieces of legislation – the European Electronic Communications Code and a revised remit for the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication (BEREC) – also include a life-saving public warning system and price caps for intra-EU calls and text messages.
The reform is the cornerstone of EU efforts to ensure very high quality fixed and mobile connectivity for everyone, which is considered a key factor for a globally competitive economy and a modern inclusive society.
European Electronic Communications Code
The Code includes measures to encourage competition and stimulate investment in very high capacity networks. It covers areas such as spectrum allocation, operators’ access to networks and symmetric regulation of all network providers in specific situations.
Consumers will be better protected thanks to the Code. For example, consumer rules will now also apply to services provided over the internet, such as messaging apps. Member States will also have to establish rules for compensation in case of misconduct by providers of electronic communications networks or services.
Following the successful roll-out of 112 as a European emergency number and building on positive experiences in some EU countries, all member states will set up a public warning system to further protect citizens. This ‘reverse 112’ system will send alerts to people’s mobile phones in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other major emergency in their area. It will have to be in place within three-and-a-half years of the Code entering into force.
The EU regulatory body BEREC will play a significant role in helping EU countries to roll out very high capacity networks and will contribute to the smooth and consistent application of the regulatory measures laid down in the Code.
New rules on cheaper intra-EU calls will cap the retail price of mobile or fixed calls from the consumer’s home country to another EU country at 19 cents per minute. The cap for intra-EU text messages will be 6 cents per message. The new caps will apply as early as 15 May 2019.
Legislative process and next steps
Today’s Council vote concludes the legislative procedure for both the Code, which is a directive, and the BEREC regulation. A provisional agreement on both texts was reached with the European Parliament on 5 June 2018, and the European Parliament voted on 14 November 2018. The legal acts are set to be signed by both institutions on 12 December and published in the EU Official Journal on 17 December. Both acts will enter into force 3 days after publication.