The telecommunications sector is crucial to the entire economy of the EU. Since 2009, despite constant growth in demand for data services, its revenues have been declining. Despite having an early lead, European telecoms lag behind international competition with regards to investment and deployment of modern infrastructure.
Even though legal obstacles to liberalisation were removed in 1998, the market remains fragmented along national borders in terms of its structure, consumer pricing, network access fees and radio spectrum allocation. The high cost of “roaming” between national markets is just one outcome of this fragmentation.
In September 2013, the European Commission proposed the Connected Continent package which aims to remove the obstacles to a genuine single market for telecoms and incentivise the sector to invest in new technologies and services. The proposal seeks to reduce administrative burdens related to gaining authorisation to operate, coordinate radio-spectrum assignment at EU level, and increase network capacity. It will also lead to the elimination of premiums on international call and on incoming calls when roaming.
The proposal provoked mixed reactions from stakeholders, who supported only some of its elements and criticised the lack of official consultation process and the rushed attempt to have it adopted in the current legislature.