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EU telecom group is ready to change role to boost competition

A group of European Union telecommunications regulators said it's ready to use enhanced powers to give competitors of former monopolies greater access to networks.

EU Media Commissioner Viviane Reding has called for a pan-European telecom regulator to help give greater consistency to the bloc's 27 different systems. Under current rules, the European Regulators Group, an independent body made up of the heads of national authorities, has an advisory role. Roberto Viola, secretary general of the European Regulators Group, said it's up to the European Commission to decide whether to propose more powers for the commission, for the European Regulators Group or for a combination of both. „If it's legally feasible, we're ready to be the body to ensure consistency within the internal market,” Viola told journalists yesterday in Brussels. „We're ready to go to the extreme.” Viola said the European Regulators Group could gain powers similar to the European Central Bank, which sets interest rates for the 13 countries using the euro. The group currently advises the commission on whether a national regulator has imposed an appropriate market-opening measure. Any changes to that role, must be approved by the European Parliament and the 27 governments. Reding has asked European Regulators Group for its opinion on whether to strengthen the commission's powers or to establish an EU telecommunications competition office that could stop national governments from favoring dominant phone companies over smaller competitors. She's planning to make formal proposals in July. Viola said that whatever model the commission chooses, it must be based on a „strengthened network of independent national regulators.” „The way forward is a federated system rather than a centralized system,” he said. The European Regulators Group will release its response to Reding's questions on February 27, Viola said. (Bloomberg)