Last week, negotiators from the EP and from the Council sat together again to discuss the telecoms single market regulation. By now, the discussions have narrowed to two issues, intra-EU roaming and net neutrality. Other pieces of the proposal have jointly been scrapped by both co-legislators. As expected, no deal was reached, although some participants marked progress and convergence. Telecoms ministers are expected to hold a political debate on the issue on 12 June during their Council meeting. The next round of talks will take place shortly afterwards. This could mean that deal might be reached under the Latvian presidency, but many deem this too optimistic. The likelier outcome seems to be that the issue will be handed over to Luxembourg. Some MEPs indicated that Luxembourg may be closer to the EP on the issue and thus push the Council somewhat in the MEPs´ direction.
On roaming, the Commission originally proposed an end to it in December 2016. The EP showed more ambition and proposed the December 2015 date. The Member States, obviously worried about the influence such move would have on their home operators, originally proposed to scrap the abolition date altogether, making it an issue of an upcoming review of the Roaming III Regulation. Later, a basic allowance of roaming minutes, texts and data (surcharge-free) was proposed as a transitional measure. Over time, the value of this basic allowance was raised in order to win the backing of the MEPs. However, the parliamentarians made it clear that a regulation without a clear and realistic date of roaming abolition will in no way pass. The most recent proposal of the Council, thus, includes one – December 2018. This is too far away for the MEPs. Also the other issue, net neutrality, is problematic, a gap existing between the ambitious EP´s position and a more cautious Council´s one.
The telecoms single market regulation is important for the Commission, too. If it fails to be adopted, the whole Digital Single Market strategy will be damaged. More input from the Commission, including a political one, can therefore be expected if the gridlock is not broken soon.
19th June 2018