The Regulatory Framework put in place in 2002 is helping to make communications markets increasingly competitive. Against this background the Commission in December recommended59 that the number of markets susceptible to ex ante regulation be more than halved from 18 to 7. Ex ante regulation is now likely to be lifted in many areas and a greater part of the industry will be subject only to EU competition rules.
In general, mobile telephony markets tend to be effectively competitive at retail level. However, wholesale markets for mobile call termination and, under the previous Recommendation on relevant markets60, for mobile access and call origination were recommended for ex ante regulation.
Throughout the year the Commission assessed 170 notifications from National Regulatory Authorithies and adopted 66 comments letters and 49 no-comments letters under the consultation mechanism laid down in Article 7 of the Framework Directive61 (FD). In five cases, the Commission raised serious doubts as to the compatibility of the notified measures with EU law and opened second phase investigations under Article 7(4) FD. In one case the Commission adopted a veto Decision.
As far as the application of EU competition law in the electronic communications sector was concerned, the most significant Decision adopted by the Commission in 2007 was the Decision of 4 July against Telefónica (see 1.1.2. above).
The review of the Regulatory Framework during 2007 led the Commission to propose a regulatory package (covering two Directives, a Regulation establishing a European Electronic Communications Market Authority (EECMA) and the Recommendation on relevant markets) in November62. With the exception of the new Recommendation on relevant markets, which entered into force in December,
Commission Recommendation of 17.12.2007 on relevant product and service markets within the electronic communications sector, OJ L 344, 28.12.2007, p. 65. The Recommendation on relevant markets is an important part of the Regulatory Framework. It lists those markets where in the view of the Commission ex ante regulation is the appropriate tool to promote competition, investment and consumer choice. From a competition policy perspective the main objective of the review has been to assess where ex ante regulation is still needed and where it can be lifted. Commission Recommendation C(2003) 497 of 11.2.2003, OJ L 114 of 8.5.2003, p. 45. Directive 2002/21/EC of 7.3.2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council, OJ L 108, 24.4.2002, p. 33. Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directives 2002/21/EC on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services, 2002/19/EC on access to, and interconnection of, electronic communications networks and services, and 2002/20/EC on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services (COM(2007) 697), Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks, 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 consumer protection cooperation (COM(2007) 698) and Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Electronic Communications Market Authority (COM(2007) 699);
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