Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

EU's spectrum policy framework

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In the EU the Member States coordinate their spectrum management approaches in a common regulatory framework to support the internal market for wireless services and to foster innovation in electronic communications and other sectors.
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The Member States harmonise spectrum access conditions at EU level to ensure efficient use of radio spectrum or to enable interoperability of underlying equipment and communications services. The European Commission works together with Member States to modernise spectrum management to facilitate spectrum access through more flexibility in usage conditions.

The four main areas of activity

The overall objective of the EU's Radio Spectrum Policy is to support the internal market for wireless services and equipment and to foster innovation in electronic communications and other sectors. This concerns four main areas of activity:

  • The identification of needs for spectrum coordination at EU level – including the monitoring of a wide range of EU policy areas which depend on radio spectrum, such as electronic communications, transport and research.

  • Initiating harmonisation of spectrum usage in individual bands across Europe where necessary.

  • The establishment of policy priorities in cases where there is conflict between different requests for spectrum use.  

  • Setting the regulatory environment for access to radio spectrum, with the aim of easier and more flexible access by public and private users.

Tasks and Challenges

The allocation and management of radio spectrum in the European Union is administered by national administrations as radio spectrum remains principally the responsibility of Member States. While the European Commission does not manage radio spectrum directly, its task is to ensure that the use and management of radio spectrum in the EU takes into account all relevant EU policies. Therefore the Commission addresses a number of specific goals that can only be achieved at EU level.

Based on the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP), which defines key policy objectives and sets up general principles for managing the radio spectrum in the internal market, the challenge for EU's Radio Spectrum Policy is to address a variety of important issues which have an impact on societal, consumer and industry needs on a pan-European basis. These include the development of innovative technologies and services to drive growth in the EU economy as well as overcoming the digital divide. Responding to this challenge requires effective collaboration between national authorities on the EU-level. 

Spectrum policy making in the EU

A framework for Radio Spectrum Policy in the EU was launched by the 2002 regulatory framework for electronic communications, and particularly by the Radio Spectrum Decision (676/2002/EC). The Radio Spectrum Decision defines the policy and regulatory tools to ensure the coordination of policy approaches and harmonised conditions for the availability and efficient use of radio spectrum for the internal market.

Policy advice, support and consultation

The Radio Spectrum Decision allows the Commission to adopt implementing decision to harmonise technical conditions with regard to the availability and efficient use of spectrum for the proper functioning of the single market. The Commission may issue mandates to the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) for the preparation of such technical implementing measures.

To assist the Commission, two complementary bodies were set up following the Radio Spectrum Decision in 2002, to facilitate consultation and to develop and support an EU Radio Spectrum Policy:

  • The Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) is a group of high-level national governmental experts to help the Commission developing general Radio Spectrum Policy at Community level.
  • The Radio Spectrum Committee (RSC) is a committee under Regulation 182/2011/EU which assists the Commission in developing technical implementation measures to ensure harmonised conditions across Europe for the availability and efficient use of radio spectrum.

In addition, the Commission has set up a Spectrum Interservice Group (SIG) that provides coordination between the various Commission departments (DGs) which have responsibility for the wide range of other EU policies which may be affected by allocation policy for radio spectrum (e.g. in transport, research, aerospace, environment, audiovisual policy).

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