Honourable President, Honourable Members of Parliament
I would like to thank you, and particularly Pilar del Castillo as rapporteur, for your hard work on this file.
We have come a long way since the Commission proposed this legislation just over two years ago. It has been a bumpy road. I would like to thank you as it has only been possible to hold today's landmark vote because of the European Parliament. In April 2014, Parliament showed that it can act decisively and quickly when the interests of people, the open internet and single market are at stake.
Today, I invite you to adopt this text on two key pillars in Plenary so that consumers and businesses can benefit as soon as possible from common net neutrality rules and the abolition of roaming surcharges.
They have been waiting a long time for this.
Adopting the TSM Regulation will be a major achievement for the Digital Single Market. It will show Europeans that the Union can deliver tangible results. Failure, of course, would have an opposite and demoralising effect.
Retail roaming surcharges will be significantly reduced from April next year and finally banned from 15 June 2017, subject to fair use policy.
This is a historic achievement, and we could not have done it without the leading role of the Parliament. Many governments were initially reluctant, until they heard the voice of their people and of the peoples' representatives here. The package is faithful to the Parliament's first reading position: there is a clear end-date for roaming surcharges and clear steps to be taken beforehand.
There is still a lot to do for the abolition of surcharges to be sustainable throughout the European Union. The wholesale roaming market has to be reviewed. The fair use policies and sustainability mechanism need to be defined.
The Commission has started to work on this. We are committed to making the abolition of roaming surcharges a reality. There is no justification for any further delay.
Adopting the TSM regulation will enshrine binding net neutrality rules into EU law for the first time ever. The regulation will create the individual and enforceable right for end-users to access and distribute internet content and services of their choice.
The net neutrality provisions also lay down rules on non-discriminatory traffic management and on end-users' free choice of content, applications and services. These provisions cannot be circumvented through commercial agreements and practices.
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. They mean that the freedom of Europeans to access or distribute internet content will not depend on the country where they are resident. This will increase consumer choice and competition, and strengthen the Digital Single Market.
National authorities will be required to monitor market developments. They will have the powers and the obligation to assess traffic management, commercial practices and agreements, including pricing practices like zero rating. Since this is a regulation, the rules are directly enforceable before national courts.
The rules also give the necessary certainty for internet access providers and providers of content and applications to offer specialised services with quality requirements. Adopting the TSM regulation will help to sustain continued network and service innovation. That will benefit both European businesses and consumers.
Let me turn now to radio spectrum.
I welcomed Parliament's efforts to include the spectrum provisions in our original TSM proposal. These could not be retained because of the lack of Council support at that stage. But the need to solve these issues remains and I rely on your continuous support in the future.
We have already started working on our telecoms review and look forward to close cooperation with this House. We plan to present an ambitious proposal by the middle of next year.
I therefore welcome your call for priority to be given to a coordinated framework for spectrum assignment to boost long-term infrastructure investments.
Honourable Members of Parliament
You now have the deal in your hands. It is a good deal, for Europe and Europeans. I urge you to vote for it.