POLICY POSITION published on 31 May 2013

Commission refers Estonia to EU Court of Justice over independence of national telecoms regulator

The European Commission has referred Estonia to the European Court of Justice in accordance with the infringement procedure under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. According to the Commission, Estonian national law does not comply with the requirements of Article 3(2) of the Telecoms Framework Directive 2002/21/EC. Article 3(2) provides that Member States that retain ownership of, or control over, companies providing telecommunications services must ensure effective structural separation of the regulatory function from activities associated with ownership or control. 

According to the Estonian law in question, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in Estonia carries out some regulatory tasks, in particular managing the allocation of radio frequencies and conducting procedures for granting frequency authorizations. At the same time it exercises control over the state-owned company Levira Ltd, the largest TV and radio broadcast network operator in Estonia, which provides broadcasting services and wireless broadband access.

This case forms part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to ensure the independence of national telecoms regulators. The Commission recently launched a consultation on the independence of national audiovisual media services bodies, which could lead to the Commission being able to take similar measures in the audiovisual media sector in the future.