As we approach the European elections that will bring a new set of priorities for the next term, the telecom sector faces threats and opportunities on old and unresolved issues.

Europe is lagging in terms of competitiveness, which is taking centre-stage in the run-up to the elections and is likely to be the focus of the future. One thing that can help steer Europe back to competitiveness is enhanced connectivity and digitalisation driven by new 5G technologies. These will not only help boost innovation across sectors but will also increase industrial efficiency and improve public services.

The telecom industry will play a crucial role in this transition but will need support from the legislators. The EU needs a simplified and more coherent regulatory framework to attract private investments and initiate the transition. To get there, it needs to finally address issues that have been dragging for years.

There is a clear need for new rules to allow in-market consolidation, to improve spectrum management and to guarantee fair contribution in terms of networks and environmental costs. And yet, while several relevant policy documents such as the White Paper on Digital Networks, the Letta report and the draft Council Strategic agenda all seem to go into that direction, resistance at the Member States’ level may slow down this process.


Key Files for the Telecom Sector 

  • White Paper on Digital Networks – Key document in defining policy options for the next term on fair share, consolidation, and spectrum. Upcoming proposal for a regulation (Digital Networks Act) to be published in 2025.
  • Recommendation on submarine cables – Presents actions at national and EU level to improve submarine cable security and resilience, through better coordination in terms of governance and funding.
  • Electronic Communications Code – Establishes common EU rules and objectives on regulating the telecom industry and defines how providers of networks and/or services can be regulated by national authorities. The first review will take place in 2025.
  • Gigabit Infrastructure Act implementation – The new rules, aim to enable faster (and cheaper) roll-out of 5G and fibre networks. The final text will not be in line with the industry’s priorities, as it makes tacit approval optional for Member States and removes charges for intra-EU calls. Implementation to be monitored.
  • Recommendation on gigabit connectivity – Provides guidance to national authorities on the conditions for accessing the network operators with significant market power.
  • AI Act implementation – The industry uses AI for several purposes, from network management to customer services. Entry into force: Q2 2024. AI Liability directive to be brought to the next mandate.
  • Payment Services Directive/Payment Services Regulation – The Parliament position introduces highly burdensome obligations for telcos, which could be held financially liable when consumers become victims of fraud. To be brought forward to the next term.
  • NIS2 Implementation – By October 2024, the EC will publish implementing acts on the definition of significant incidents and on security measures. Implementation and transposition in key MS to be closely monitored.
  • GDPR in cross border cases – Risks of weakening the one stop shop principle, limiting the right to be heard for investigated parties, and reducing confidentiality protections. To be adopted in the next term. GDPR evaluation – report due by mid-2024. E-privacy (on hold).
  • Virtual worlds represent the next big opportunity for telecom operators. The EU institutions have shown interest in the topic and are likely to follow up with more (possibly legislative) initiatives in the next term.