EU urges more telecoms competition despite crisis
The European Commission Saturday urged greater competition in the union's telecommunications sector, rejecting calls from operators for a moratorium because of the global financial crisis.
"Some of you ... have come to me in the past weeks and told me that now, because of the financial crisis, it would be time to soften or even to abandon telecoms regulation," Viviane Reding,the EU commissioner responsible for the information society and media, told a conference of operators in Venice.
"First of all, I firmly believe that regulation taking care of competition always has a positive effect on the economy. Times of economic difficulties are thus not a reason to suspend the principles of competition law," she said according to remarks released in Brussels.
Last November the commission presented a series of measures aiming to promote competition and services for consumers in the telecoms sector.
It called for better coordination between member states with a new "super-regulator." But the proposals have received a frosty reception from some member states and existing national operators.
"You and your lobbyists should be aware that the times when one could simply say 'no regulation' to have policy makers and public opinion on your side, that these times are over now," Reding said.
"There is a very interesting lesson from the ongoing financial crisis for the overall perception of regulation. It is certainly not over-regulation that has caused the financial crisis!"
Reding said the absence of a single telecoms market in Europe was "extremely damaging for Europe's economy."
She said one expert calculated the additional cost of regulatory fragmentation in telecoms was 20 billion euros (25 billion dollars) a year.
"Commission experts believe this figure to be still a very conservative estimate," Reding said.