The process of bettering any system begins with its scrutiny. The European Union’s Single Market for digital networks, is no exception. The European Commission’s exploratory consultation, officially titled “Exploratory Consultation on the Future of the Electronic Communications Sector and its Infrastructure” (“the Consultation”) was aimed towards stakeholders within the digital space within the European Union. This consultation succeeded in highlighting both the pitfalls and challenges which require addressing in order to properly foster a better, digital tomorrow; which has the telecommunications infrastructure as its fundamental pillar.

The conclusion of the Consultation was distilled into three main three takeaways, namely:

  1. The requirement for innovation and efficient investments to grow budding ideas and breakthroughs;
  2. Fostering the Single Market’s potential for an EU-Wide streamlining and Integration in Telecom Regulation; and lastly
  3. The requirement for better digital security which addresses the current harmful interference from outside the European Union’s borders.

Regulation is poised as the backbone for this improvement. Nevertheless, the Consultation revealed that both substantive and procedural laws need further adjustment to better cater for the inevitable digital transformation. From a legal perspective, the current issues are two-fold, comprising of excess regulatory barriers and unharmonised procedures at the national level. Both of these issues are exacerbated when seen through the perspective on the plethora of Electronic Communications Networks providers scattered across Europe, most of which operating on different networks and following different regulations.

On these issues, Thierry Breton voiced his concern on Linkedin stating that:

“Too many regulatory barriers to a true telecoms Single Market still exist, on spectrum acquisition, consolidation, legacy networks, security, and so on.”[1]

Whilst the Gigabit Infrastructure Act was primarily aimed at the creation of a simpler and clearer permit granting process for infrastructure, the Consultation revealed that this merely scratches the surface. In response to this and in light of the Europe’s 2030 Digital Decade targets, the ”Game-changing” Digital Networks Act was proposed, to which Breton stated that this yet-to-be-proposed regulation is aimed to

  1. Establish an actual single market for telecommunications, tackling the issue of unharmonised procedures;
  2. Enhance the appeal of network investments by addressing low returns, exploring novel financing approaches; and
  3. Recognising the strategic significance of the sector in terms of digital sovereignty.[2] As it stands, the aforementioned facets of the Digital Networks Act aim to address the issues highlighted within the Consultation.

Breton assures that:

“The task will not be easy but – as we have done on other game-changing proposals – we will not shy away from doing what is needed to achieve a paradigm shift in digital regulation.”

For more information and assistance on Technology, Media & Telecommunications Law, kindly contact Dr Ian Gauci.



Disclaimer This article is not intended to impart legal advice and readers are asked to seek verification of statements made before acting on them.
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