Europe in danger of being sidelined without telecoms single market, says Kroes

Neelie Kroes

Neelie Kroes

European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes has again called for progress towards a single market in telecommunications and has outlined a number of measures that she would like to implement.

At a public hearing at the end of last week, Kroes said that Europe was in danger of being left behind in the race to deploy ultra-fast fixed and mobile broadband services, citing the fact that only 2% of EU homes have an ultrafast subscription above 100Mbps, while for mobile, average European data speeds are half of those of the US.

“For me, the most important thing is to act quickly. The world is changing fast, technology is moving fast, and we need to act fast to save our economy,” said Kroes.

She called for the creation of a ‘passport’ for service providers faced with the problem of needing separate authorisations under separate systems for each country in which they operate, so that an company authorised to operate in one member state would be able to operate in any.

She also called for moves to make it easier to run networks across borders and for a harnessing of spectrum planning, with consistent rules and the coordinated timing of spectrum auctions.

“To travel across borders, you also need consistent rules and a consistent quality of service. Operators shouldn’t have to deal with a mess of different rules, regulators and remedies in each member state. Citizens should enjoy consistent consumer protection, wherever they or their operator are from,” said Kroes.

Kroes said there was more work to be done in the field of mobile communications, where the EU has already taken action on roaming charges. She called for these to be abolished altogether ultimately.

“Here’s my point: we shouldn’t be fighting over crumbs: we should be making the pie bigger. And that is exactly what we will do: with fewer barriers, better services, and fairer prices,” said Kroes. “And to those who say that everything is fine, I say no way. The status quo is not sustainable. In the telecoms sector itself, many are doing very badly. Revenues decline by 1% to 2% a year, while in the rest of the world they are increasing 5% or more.”

Kroes said that she would come forward with a proposal to create a telecoms single market in early September.

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