Moving towards a regulatory framework with additional pieces of soft law promoting full connectivity across the EU

16 September 2021

Expressing his support for the 2030 Connectivity targets set by the European Commission, BEREC Chair Michel Van Bellinghen participated in the panel discussion "EU policies and regulation; on the road to the Digital Decade" organised by the FTTH Council Europe. 

He expressed the European appetite to ensure high-quality connectivity networks in all regions across the EU. The BEREC Chair also noted that with the adoption of the Electronic Communications Code, the role of national and international regulators has changed. Nowadays regulators need to factor in more societal perspectives, such as bridging the digital divide and making sure connectivity is promoted. Michel Van Bellinghen added that we are moving towards a regulatory framework with additional pieces of soft law, such as the Commission’s Recommendations, the Connectivity Toolbox, BEREC Guidelines and an overall focus on sustainability.

In the backdrop of the recently announced Digital compass outlining targets for Europe’s digital transformation by 2030 and the ambitions for rapid build-out of fibre and 5G networks, the BEREC Chair emphasised that the fast rollout of fibre and 5G networks is a prerequisite for the long-term competitiveness and sustainability of the EU. He said: “BEREC prioritises work that improves the general conditions for the expansion and take-up of secure, competitive and reliable high-capacity networks across Europe while ensuring a smooth transition from legacy infrastructures.”

Michel Van Bellinghen invited stakeholders to participate in the public consultation on the BEREC Work Programme 2022, which will be launched on 6 October 2021. The BEREC Chair said that promoting full connectivity will be the centre of gravity of the BEREC work next year. He also informed the audience that BEREC would issue a report about the regulatory treatment for fixed and mobile backhaul – a key for enabling 5G and facilitating the deployment of high-speed networks, especially in non-densely populated areas. BEREC is currently preparing a snapshot on how backhaul is addressed in market analysis by National Regulatory Authorities, i.e., whether it is regulated or not, under which wholesale market and which remedies apply. The document will also present BEREC’s conclusions with a particular focus on future needs and regulation of backhaul.

The virtual annual FTTH conference took place on 16 September 2021. It brought together technical and regulatory experts, senior government and industry representatives, policymakers, regulators and investors to discuss all aspects of FTTH, 5G and other fibre-related and enabling technologies and services and their benefit to society.