Suddenly, digital single market doesn’t ‘need’ EU agency

European commissioner for the digital economy Mariya Gabriel on Monday (4 December) downplayed the importance of the rejected commission idea for a strong EU telecommunications watchdog – denying that the plan was essential for the future success of the digital single market.

“The digital single market goes beyond any particular piece of legislation or any particular member state, or any particular institution,” Gabriel said at a press conference in Brussels, after meeting with telecommunications ministers on Monday.

  • EU commissioner Mariya Gabriel (r) at the press conference with Estonian telecommunications minister Urve Palo (Photo: Council of the European Union)

During that meeting, ministers adopted a position on the European Commission’s legislative proposal on the future mandate of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication (Berec).

The commission proposed to transform Berec into a powerful EU agency, but the ministers decided that they wanted to keep much of the status quo, with power concentrated at the level of national telecommunications watchdogs.

Gabriel told the ministers in the meeting, broadcast online, that the commission “would have wanted a greater political ambition”.

“If we want to have a telecoms single market, it is essential that the rules be applied in a coherent and consistent way.

“In order to achieve this, we need an effective, transparent and responsible agency. This is what we need if we want to achieve successfully this telecoms single market,” she said.

At the ensuing press conference, Gabriel however rejected the suggestion that she had implied that the digital single market can only be a success if Berec received the stronger mandate proposed by the commission.

“No, the digital single market is a number of legislative proposals,” she said.

The Bulgarian commissioner then went on to list several of them, like proposals on the free flow of non-personal data, cybersecurity, e-privacy, and copyright, saying there had been an “enormous amount of progress there”.

“But there is no huge obstacle,” she said, referring to the rejection of the idea of a strong Berec agency.

“We just stay very constructive and open for the future negotiation.”

A commission spokeswoman on Monday evening said by email that Gabriel had not meant that the success of the digital single market was conditional on Berec becoming a fully-fledged EU…

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