Commission has doubts about Italian regulator’s independence
By Manon Malhère | Thursday 19 July 2012
The European Commission announced, on 19 July, that it has opened infringement proceedings against Italy in connection with the regulation of telecommunications markets and the margin of discretion available to the Italian regulator, the Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (AGCOM).
Rome has two months to respond to the Commission’s letter of formal notice. If the executive continues to have doubts after examining Italy’s response, it will send a reasoned opinion, the final stage of proceedings before referral to the EU Court of Justice. “Independence of national regulatory authorities is a fundamental principle of EU telecoms rules. This means that regulators should not seek or take instructions from any other body in relation to market regulation,” explained Ryan Heath, spokesman for Commissioner Neelie Kroes.
The case concerns the amendment of a recent law on Italian telecommunications that obliges AGCOM to separate (or unbundle) ancillary services from the provision of wholesale network access.
The amendment would prescribe a particular solution and thus undermine AGCO’s independence, alleges the Commission. But the national authority must be able to address all competition matters independently, continues the executive, in other words, it must be able to determine the need to regulate or not.
The Commission’s observations are doubtless based on articles of the Telecoms Framework Directive 2002/21/EC and the Access Directive 2002/19/EC.