French watchdog to regain power to sanction operators

30 Jan 2014

French telecoms watchdog Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep) will regain its powers to ensure implementation of its decisions and enforce sanctions, which it lost in July 2013, local newspaper Les Echos reports, citing Fleur Pellerin, the country’s Minister of Digital Economy. According to the article, the government will issue an executive order to reinstate Arcep’s authority before the end of February 2014; the regulator will also be awarded the power to apply preventative fines to operators who do not respect the ‘investment trajectory’ required to meet long-term licensing commitments. Further, the minister pointed out that the government wants to strengthen Arcep’s role as an independent regulator by ‘rebalancing’ the relationship between the two parties.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in July 2013 France’s Constitutional Council revoked the legal provisions governing Arcep’s powers, thus stripping the telecoms watchdog of its authority to enforce sanctions. The Constitutional Council made the decision as it considered that Arcep was in non-compliance with the French Constitution’s principle of separation of power. The ruling came in response to the application for a ‘priority preliminary ruling on the issue of constitutionality’ filed by domestic cableco Numericable in April 2013, wherein the cable operator argued that the principle of separation of powers of investigation and sanction was not met within Arcep.

France, Arcep