Monday, 21 December 2009

EU Telecoms package: “Citizens’ Rights Directive”

The existing EU regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services comprises five Directives, the Framework Directive and the Specific Directives:

• Framework Directive 2002/21/EC
• Access Directive 2002/19/EC
• Authorisation Directive 2002/20/EC
• Universal Service Directive 2002/22/EC
• Directive on privacy and electronic communications 2002/58/EC





This is how the European Commission set out the reason for amending the two Directives mentioned last, in its proposal 13.11.2007 COM(2007)0698:

The present legislative reform proposal adapts the regulatory framework by strengthening certain consumers’ and users’ rights (in particular with a view to improving accessibility and promoting an inclusive Information Society), and ensuring that electronic communications are trustworthy, secure and reliable and provide a high level of protection for individuals’ privacy and personal data. The proposal does not alter the current scope or concept of universal service in the EU, which will be subject to a separate consultation in 2008. It is in line with the Commission’s Better Regulation Programme, which is designed to ensure that legislative interventions remain proportionate to the political objectives pursued, and forms part of the Commission’s overall strategy to strengthen and complete the internal market.

More specifically, the objectives of the present proposal are two-fold:

1. Strengthening and improving consumer protection and user rights in the electronic communication sector, through — amongst other aspects —giving consumers more information about prices and supply conditions, and facilitating access to and use of e-communications, including emergency services, for disabled users; and

2. Enhancing the protection of individuals’ privacy and personal data in the electronic communications sector, in particular through strengthened security-related provisions and improved enforcement mechanisms.



In the first reading report A6-0318/2008, the European Parliament Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (rapporteur Malcolm Harbour) was generally supportive of the Commission’s proposal, but tabled amendments with regard to a number of issues:

- Clarified the pre contractual information requirements
- Broadened the information and transparency provisions
- Added new provisions for consumers to be given information on their legal obligations in using a service (especially respect of copyright) and the adoption of security safeguards
- Reinforced the service provisions for disabled users
- Made detailed amendments related to “112” emergency number availability and caller location
- Clarified and simplified the quality of service requirements
- More clearly defined the responsibility of National Regulators for day to day market enforcement of consumer rights, removing some of the proposed Commission responsibilities in these areas.
- Removed provisions for support of the “3883” numbering space, for which very limited consumer demand is now foreseen with the evolution of nomadic “Voice over Network” services.


After the customary dance steps between the EP, the Council and the Commission, the proposal became factually ready for adoption, but it had to wait for the conciliation process regarding the whole Telecoms package before formal adoption.



The process can be studied in detail through the Legislative Observatory of the European Parliament, under procedure COD/2007/0248.


Directive 2009/136

The Universal Service Directive 2002/22/EC and the Directive on privacy and electronic communications 2002/58/EC have now been reformed. Regulation 2006/2004 on consumer protection cooperation was also amended:




DIRECTIVE 2009/136/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
of 25 November 2009 amending Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services, Directive 2002/58/EC concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws
. This text with EEA relevance was published OJEU 18.12.2009 L 337/11.


The EU member states have until 25 May 2011 to transpose the “Citizens’ Rights Directive” into national law.



Ralf Grahn



P.S. Read why Julien Frisch recommends Bloggingportal.eu, the multilingual aggregator of euroblogs (18 December 2009).
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