Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, has suggested that Commission will take a balanced approach to net neutrality in proposing measures designed to ensure a connected continent.
Delivering a speech to the ECTA Regulatory Conference 2013 in Brussels, Kroes told delegates that currently, EU telecoms is fragmented: with distinct national markets, diverging implementation of EU rules, and high barriers to entry. “That applies for all of the vital rules affecting the sector, from authorisations to operate; to access to inputs; to consumer protections,” she noted, adding that the end result was that communicating across borders is complex and costly. “It is too hard to replicate services, or ensure quality and continuity in different markets. For providers and their customers.”
She said that the EU’s competitiveness relies on modern, high-speed networks. “Performance in every sector needs fixed and mobile broadband, to deliver the connectivity our economy craves. And that in turn needs a strong, healthy telecoms sector, able to innovate and invest within a dynamic and competitive market.”
Accordingly she noted that the October European Council acknowledged the urgent need for an integrated single market, for both digital and telecoms. “It recognised the role of a stable EU-wide legal framework: to overcome fragmentation, promote competition and attract private investment. And it welcomed our legal proposals on a ‘Connected Continent’, calling on the legislator to deal with it intensively. Because we cannot afford to wait around: we need to act fast, and ensure now rules that are fit for the future.”
She described the EU’s legislative proposals as “both balanced and realistic”, suggesting that in respect of net neutrality, she was proposing a balanced approach. “Prohibiting the blocking and throttling that obstructs competition. And allowing new, innovative specialised services — only where they do not impair the Internet for everyone else,” she advised.