In Spring 2013, the European Council requested the Commission to make a proposal for achieving a single market in telecoms. On 11 September 2013 the European Commission adopted a legislative package for a "Connected Continent: Building a Telecoms Single Market" aimed at building a connected, competitive continent and enabling sustainable digital jobs and industries. In October 2015 the European Parliament voted in favour for the first EU-wide net neutrality rules (read press release).
The rules enshrine the principle of net neutrality into EU law: no blocking or throttling of online content, applications and services. It means that there will be truly common EU-wide internet rules, contributing to a single market and reversing current fragmentation.
Every European must be able to have access to the open internet and all content and service providers must be able to provide their services via a high-quality open internet. From the entry into force of the rules, blocking and throttling the internet will be illegal in the EU and users will be free to use their favourite apps no matter the offer they subscribe. Many mobile providers are blocking Skype, Facetime or similar apps or sometime they ask extra money for allowing these services: this will be illegal.
All traffic will be treated equally. This means, for example, that there can be no paid prioritisation of traffic in the internet access service. At the same time, equal treatment allows reasonable day-to-day traffic management according to justified technical requirements, and which must be independent of the origin or destination of the traffic and of any commercial considerations. Common rules on net neutrality mean that internet access providers cannot pick winners or losers on the internet, or decide which content and services are available.
In April 2011, the Commission asked the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) to undertake a fact-finding exercise on issues crucial to ensuring an open and neutral Internet, including barriers to changing operators, blocking or throttling of Internet traffic, transparency and quality of service.
As a result, BEREC published in May 2012 the results of its traffic management investigation, which covered more than 400 fixed and mobile ISPs and gives a very good overview of traffic management practices in Europe. BEREC's results show that there is an undeniable problem regarding open Internet in Europe and now is the moment to take action.
BEREC had also previously published a report on best practices to facilitate switching in October 2010 as well as a framework for quality of service in December 2011. At the same time, BEREC adopted guidelines on transparency by identifying best practices and recommended approaches.
In December 2012, BEREC published its guidelines on quality of service as well as reports on differentiation practices and related competition issues, and IP Interconnection.