Computer & Communication Industry Association
PublishedMay 16, 2024

EU Telecom Ministers Should Defend Open Internet, Rejecting Commission’s Attempt to Prop up Big Telcos, Broad Coalition Stresses

Brussels, BELGIUM – Ahead of next week’s meeting of EU Telecommunications Ministers, a unique coalition of consumer groups, digital rights NGOs and industry expresses grave concerns on the future EU regulatory framework for telecoms – with the Commission’s latest ideas risking to undermine the open internet and competitive EU telecoms market.

The signatories of today’s joint statement call on Member States to ensure the EU takes a pro-competition approach that benefits consumers and to oppose any proposals for unjustified regulatory intervention. In its recent white paper on Europe’s digital infrastructure needs, the European Commission entertains various scenarios that would have detrimental consequences for European consumers and the wider economy.

As the Telecommunications Council takes place on 21 May, the signatories – which include the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA Europe) – now highlight how some of the Commission’s priorities pose a great danger.

The controversial paper mentions the possibility of introducing “dispute resolution mechanisms” for the IP interconnection market, which in practice could come down to network usage fees through the backdoor. This is a measure championed by telecom lobbyists years ago, as part of their initial demands for ‘fair share’ payments.

The Commission’s ideas for the telecoms sector also include extending the obligations of the European Electronic Communications Code from telecom operators to cloud providers, even though they provide completely different services. Likewise, the white paper hints at removing obligations for former telecom monopolists, at the risk of reducing competition and driving up prices for European consumers and businesses.

The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe’s Senior Vice President & Head of Office, Daniel Friedlaender:

“These dangerous ideas were outright rejected by a vast majority of stakeholders – including EU telecom regulators’ body BEREC and Member States – only very recently. Regrettably, the Commission keeps trying to prop up big telecom operators to the detriment of Europe’s competitiveness. Today’s statement shows universal opposition to these ideas. We all agree this would harm competition, the open internet, and – above all – European consumers.”

The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe’s Policy Manager, Maria Teresa Stecher:

“Any regulatory intervention in the EU telecoms market should be strictly evidence based. We don’t need recycled ideas that were rejected before. Going forward, any new policy scenario that is tabled requires a comprehensive impact assessment and inclusive public consultation.”

Notes for editors

This unique coalition brings together the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC, representing 45 consumer organisations), digital rights NGOs – such as European Digital Rights (EDRi), (Austria), D3 (Portugal), Digitalcourage (Germany), Homo Digitalis (Greece), Drzavljan D (Slovenia), Chaos Computer Club (Germany), ApTI (Romania), Aspiration Tech, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation – as well as industry groups Allied for Startups, Association des Services Internet Communautaires (ASIC), the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA Europe), Digital Poland Association, and the European Association of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO Europe).