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EU assembly set to dilute telecom regulator plan

The European Commission’s proposal for a new European Union authority for telecom operators, radio frequencies and Internet security will be scaled back, a senior EU lawmaker said on Tuesday.

EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding has proposed a new electronic communications authority to replace an informal European Regulators Group of national telecoms watchdogs from each of the 27 EU states. ENISA, an EU agency that looks at Internet security, would be folded into the new authority which would also have a say in how spectrum or radio frequencies are managed. The European Parliament and EU states have final say on Reding’s proposal which is part of a package to increase competition and cut prices for consumers.

Pilar del Castillo Vera, a center-right member of the EU assembly, is steering the authority proposal through parliament and will publish her amendments shortly. She said that unchanged, Reding’s proposal would hinder the goal of boosting competition, create a new bureaucracy and take too much power away from EU states, she said. “In my proposal there is an alternative to the new market authority and that is to relaunch the European Regulatory Group as a body of European regulators in telecoms or BERT,” she told Reuters. Under Castillo Vera’s proposal -- which she says has strong cross-party support -- BERT would be an independent expert adviser to the European Commission and roughly in line with counter proposals being put forward by the ERG itself.

Reding has said the ERG or a variant of it would not be up to the task of boosting competition in the sector or stand up to pressure from some governments. BERT would have a president, vice president and managing director and obtain a third of its funding from the EU, the rest from member states, Castillo Vera said. “BERT should be a transitory body and it should be for five years maximum,” she said. It would also not have a final say on spectrum allocation, Castillo Vera said. (Reuters)