The European Parliament yesterday (14 November 2018) approved the European Electronic Communications Code as proposed by the European Commission in September 2016 under the Digital Single Market strategy. The Council of the EU will formally adopt the Directive establishing the Code alongside the Regulation establishing the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) on 3 December 2018. The new rules will enter into force on the third day following publication in the Official Journal. Member States will have two years from that date to transpose the entire Code into national law.
The Code – agreed in June 2018 by EU co-legislators – modernises the existing EU telecoms regulation framework which was last comprehensively updated in 2009.
Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip and Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel gave a joint statement highlighting some of the aims of the code, including: supporting 5G network deployment across Europe, ensuring access to new mobile spectrum resources in the near-term, boosting investment in high speed broadband networks across the EU (including remote areas), promoting access to affordable communications services (including universally available internet, eGovernment, online banking and video calls), and granting EU citizens new digital rights irrespective of whether they use traditional calls, SMS or web-based services such as Skype and WhatsApp.
In addition, new provisions on intra-EU calls will apply from 15 May 2019, with calls between any EU countries costing users a maximum of EUR0.19 (USD0.21) per minute and intra-EU SMS capped at EUR0.06 per message.