- Working groups
Today, the Council of the European Union is expected to agree on a negotiating mandate (‘general approach’) on the proposal for a Gigabit Infrastructure Act (GIA), i.e. a Regulation on measures to reduce the cost of deploying gigabit electronic communications networks across the European Union.
The European telecommunications industry strongly disapproves of the Council’s draft general approach on the GIA.
In our previous joint statement, issued in September, we stated our strong belief that the GIA will be essential to accelerate the deployment of Very High Capacity Networks (VHCNs) across the European Union. It is key to removing the administrative complexities and red tape that hinder the rollout of gigabit-speed mobile and fixed networks, and their benefits for European citizens and businesses alike.
While we recognise the Spanish Presidency’s efforts to move forward with the proposal in the Council, we regret to see that the draft general approach has been deprived of several provisions proposed by the European Commission that would positively support fast VHCN deployment. Without these provisions, the European Union’s hopes of achieving its 2030 Digital Decade targets will be severely impacted.
We want therefore to highlight the following:
We would like first to call on Ministers to carefully assess the draft text taking into consideration our strong concerns and also ask the negotiators (first trilogue is scheduled right after the Council meeting) to invest every effort possible to ensure all these provisions are reflected in the final GIA text in order to ensure a tangible difference compared with the current Broadband Cost Reduction Directive.
Anticipating the coming trilogue negotiations, we are strongly opposed to the inclusion of measures to regulate intra-EU communications in the scope of the GIA, which we believe would be at odds with the aims of this instrument. Indeed, the GIA has been proposed in order to reduce the cost for the sector and spur the costly roll-out of Gigabit infrastructures. Such a negative outcome in the discussion would deprive the sector of revenues, hurting investment capacity instead of supporting it. A recent assessment by Analysys Mason (November 2023) estimates that the abolishment of surcharges for intra-EU calls may lead to a revenue loss of at least EUR2.1 billion for operators in the 5-year period leading up to 2029 (not including revenue loss from bundles and SMS). We moreover also remain of the strong opinion that such retail price regulation is not warranted. Given the competitive state of the market and the increasing availability of alternatives, the proposal from the European Parliament to abolish retail surcharges is not based on any market failure.