18 June, 2013
ETNO Executive Board Chair Luigi Gambardella's remarks from EU Commission's hearing on the Telecom Single Market
ETNO Executive Board Chair Luigi Gambardella attended the European Commission's hearing on a a Telecom Single Market and gave the following remarks.
- As many of you know, ETNO has been very vocal on the importance of creating a well-functioning Single Market for electronic communications. Europe needs a new strategy to make its telecom sector grow again.
- The goal of any Single Market initiative should be to boost the growth and competitiveness of the EU economy and to create new jobs, particularly for young Europeans. This is the priority now, and all policy proposals should be tailored to this crucial end.
- The key to achieve this goal is to reverse the current downward spiral of the European electronic communications industry. As you all know, over the past years the revenues of the sector have been declining, and so has its overall market capitalization, as you can easily see from the right and the left graph of the slide. European telco’s growth is 7 to 9 times lower than in US and Asia. This has had negative effects: the drop of the value and our companies, 28% between 2006 and 2012.
- This situation must be reversed, Europe digital economy is at risk. At current trends, delivering the investments required to achieve the Digital Agenda targets will be impossible.
- In other regions of the world, the market is growing and investments are rising, thanks to the existence of a more investment-friendly regulatory framework and more efficient market structures.
- Europe should pursue similar solutions, by reviewing the regulatory framework that applies to our industry, in a way that provides operators with the right incentives to invest in next-generation broadband infrastructures. At the same time a level playing field is needed in order to allow the European industry to compete with its new global competitors.
- Achieving such a goal requires clear, ambitious and concrete reform proposals.
- Unfortunately, we regret that, so far, there has been little clarity on the measures that will be proposed by the Commission. Up to now, a clear reform package is yet to be seen.
- Moreover, from the scarce information that we have received so far, we haven’t seen any concrete proposal which could significantly impact on the growth of the sector, especially in the short term.
- Some of the measures envisaged, such as on spectrum allocation, may generate benefits in the long-term, but certainly not the urgent and potent boost that the industry badly needs. Other elements, such as ‘pan-European access products’ may simply add to the regulatory burden, if current regulation is not lifted in return.
- Frankly speaking, we are still waiting for the radical reform package that we were expecting and that would lead to a more sustainable framework for competition in Europe, enhancing consumer welfare through investment and innovation.
- We hope that today’s event is just the first of several occasions to bring our ideas to the table, and that such ideas will eventually be fully considered. We can still promote a well-functioning Digital Singe Market giving stakeholders the time and the means to refocus this package.
- In conclusion, this is the main message I want to share with you today: in these difficult times for the EU economy, with our economic and social welfare under strong pressure all over Europe, there is no time for minor reforms. Let’s be ambitious. Let’s focus on the primary goal of growth and jobs.