This is why the reformed Telecoms Package, proposed by the Commission in November 2007 and currently awaiting final agreement of the European Parliament and the Council, will further strengthen competitive and market forces and transparency for consumers on the EU's telecoms markets and provide additional safeguards against anti-competitive behaviour – and this beyond the competition law instruments already available under Articles 81 and 82.
National telecoms regulatory authorities will in particular be required to promote 'the ability of end users to access and distribute information or run applications and services of their choice'. This will contribute to strengthen the "neutral character" of the net in Europe.
Where competitive forces alone are not enough to safeguard the openness of the Internet, national regulators will be able, under the reformed EU telecoms rules, to intervene in the market by settingminimum quality of service requirements for network transmission services (Article 22§3 of the Universal Service Directive). This will be supported by new transparency requirements vis-à-vis consumers (Articles 21 and 22 of the USD).
As regards instances of blocking of VoIP applications on mobile broadband networks, the second EU Roaming Regulation, which entered into force on 1 July, stresses that there should be no obstacles to the emergence of applications or technologies which can be a substitute for, or alternative to, roaming services, such as WiFi, VoIP and Instant Messaging services.
These reforms in favour of net neutrality are therefore a very important, (and often underestimated) achievement of the telecoms reform, and many European Parliamentarians, but also many Ministers deserve the credit for having strengthened the corresponding wording in the package during the legislative process.'
But here's the clincher: shje's going to give these proposals teeth (her emphases):
'I would like Europe to make good use of these new tools for enhancing net neutrality. I have myself already indicated that I would be prepared to act on this basis in case of continued blocking of Voice over IP services by certain mobile operators.
I would in addition like to have, in 2010, a broad debate about how the Commission could best use these new instruments in the interest of an open internet and of internet users.
The new telecoms package is in many instances a quite robust answer to such new threats to net neutrality. However, I also know that technology and regulation will evolve further in the years to come. And I plan to be Europe's first line of defence whenever it comes to real threats to net neutrality .'