Neelie Kroes, Europe’s digital commissioner, has made a strongly-worded speech calling on the European Parliament to support her in pushing forward plans for a single telecoms market.
Kroes wants to see the legislative package, which contains proposals to end roaming and implement net neutrality, completed by Easter 2014.
But the speech also contained an admission by Kroes that, with rare exceptions, telecoms and digital issues struggle to reach the top of the political agenda.
“There is no other sector of our incomplete European single market where the barriers are so unneeded, and yet so high.”
She called on the parliament to work with her on “a radical legislative compromise”.
“We will each need to consider all the pieces in the jigsaw, not only our personal favourites, or the visible and sexy changes. Often the invisible investments are just as important for long-term consumer welfare.”
Kroes’ comments come on the same day the GSMA released a report showing how Europe lags the US mobile market across a number of key metrics, including deployment of high-speed technology, usage levels and investment levels.
For instance, the report says nearly 20 per cent of US connections will be on LTE networks by the end of 2013, compared to fewer than two per cent in the EU.
And capital expenditure in the US has grown by 70 per cent since 2007, while it has fallen in the EU.
The report says fundamental regulatory reforms are needed to bring back growth to Europe’s mobile markets.
Suggested measures include prioritisation of spectrum allocation; removal of barriers to market consolidation; and a focus on innovation and investment; and establishing a single market for mobile which would involve identifying areas which could be more effectively regulated at the European level.
The GSMA report was developed in collaboration with Navigant Economics
Kroes has called for speeding up telecoms reform before, but this was a direct appeal that argued success could boost the EU’s popularity with voters.