EU to regulate voice call termination rates

The European Commission has launched a public consultation to gather stakeholder and the public’s opinion on the scope and application of the future EU harmonized rules on voice call termination services. A termination rate is one component in the cost calculation for providing telephone service and is subject to most variation in the EU.

Commission is expected to adopt a Delegated Act in the field of voice call termination rates in Member States by 31 December 2020. The current differences have distorted cross-border competition and fragmented telecom markets. Therefore, the regulation is intended to standardise rates by establishing a pan-European maximum termination rate for fixed and mobile calls. This consultation will determine the services that fall under voice call termination. Telecommunication operators and consumers will benefit, as mitigating the risks of excessive pricing will increase consumption.

EU moves on Artificial Intelligence

In April this year, the European Commission put forward an EU approach to artificial intelligence and robotics. The EU’s plans include funding to encourage the uptake between public and private sectors. Moreover, the EU’s approach foresees support to education and labour to prepare for the deployment of AI. Last, while the EU is determined to stay at the front of this technological development, it will also work on ensuring a proper legal and ethical framework.

More recently, the European Union followed on the above Communication with a plan for AI made in Europe. The plan will foresee concrete measures that will be put forward by the European Commission and the Member States in 2019 and 2020. These will include AI ethics guidelines and a guidance on the Product Liability Directive. In addition, the regulatory framework on Digital Single Market will have to be completed to make AI a success. Completion of legislative proposals in the area of cybersecurity, open data and upcoming EU budgets, will be important to secure the legal framework and the funding opportunities for investment, research and innovation.

For the abovementioned reasons, all potential users, including small and medium-sized enterprises, companies from non-tech sectors and public administrations should engage in the process to shape the rules in order to take advantage of the opportunities.

EU to harmonise device chargers

After the failure of the negotiations with the industry for a new Memorandum of Understanding to harmonise chargers for data-enabled mobiles sold in the EU, the European Commission has initiated in May 2019 a public consultation to collect stakeholders’ opinions in order to find the best solution to the problem of fragmentation of the charging solutions.

The European Commission will take into consideration three policy options, including no common charging solution, voluntary approach, and a binding regulatory approach that should impose common chargers for the whole industry. This last option would determine economic benefits for consumers, as well as a positive impact on the environment through a reduction of e-waste. However, it will have a negative impact on producers and importers.

More EU Burdens on Household Devices

household deviceOn February 2018, the European Commission has invited all interested parties to submit their views on the energy efficiency and eco-labelling of a series of commonly used electric and electronic devices. The European Commission, welcomes the views of stakeholders and citizens alike on the eco-design of refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, household lamps, televisions and computers. The public consultations will inform the ongoing evaluation and will result in the preparation of regulations specific to each product category.

Despite the positive objective to contribute to the energy efficiency and create a level playing field for EU manufacturers of such devices, the new initiative has already shown its dark side. The EU industry is afraid that it will take another hard-financial beating due to increased compliance costs and so are EU consumers. Non-EU manufacturers need to constantly adjust to an ever increasing in complexity matrix of environmental regulations that makes their access to the EU market difficult.

The open consultations will last until May 2018 and the results which will be published shortly after will shape the market of household devices.

EU Declares War on Piracy

In January 2018, the European Commission signaled the beginning of public consultations aiming on mapping out markets, which thrive by the abuse of intellectual property rights. The initiative is a first step in a series of escalating responses to a form of organised fraud amounting to a 5% of the total imports to the EU and resulting in damages exceeding the 85bn € for EU producers annually. The EU black list will be followed by custom controls and legislative efforts to crack down on pirates as well as consumer awareness campaigns.

The initiative, however, has raised many eyebrows worldwide, amidst rumours related to the targeting of specific competitive to the EU markets. Specifically, manufacturers from China as well as certain Balkan countries feel pinned down by the impending reforms. Furthermore, serious concerns have been raised on the effect that overly restrictive regulations might have on products considered ‘similar’ or ‘substitutes’.

One thing though is certain, that the new rules will affect a considerable part of the global market.

EU to regulate telecoms

telecomunicationMembers of the European Parliament are pushing for a broader telecom reform to boost competition in the EU. The European Parliament wants to give national regulators new control powers in EU countries which are dominated by very few companies.

It differs from the initial Commission proposal from September 2016, which didn’t mention the necessity to address oligopolies. The position is controversial. Critics argue that giving regulators additional tools could have unprecedented consequences.

The European Parliament’s ITRE Committee is expected to vote on the final position in the upcoming months. The EU will further tighten the grip on big telecom companies, and facilitate competition on the market for smaller player by ensuring a more balanced distribution of market power.