This is the final report of a three-year study monitoring e-communications and information society in the nine countries that are or have been taking part in the EU enlargement process: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Iceland, Kosovo*, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. It analyses the progress achieved so far in achieving the targets of the Digital Agenda for Europe, and highlights key regulatory and policy issues determining investment in the sector.

The report is structured in two main parts: the first part provides a comparative analysis of market and regulatory developments across the EU enlargement countries, and the second part consists of detailed country chapters examining the most relevant developments crucial for bringing the country up to speed with the process of achieving the Digital Agenda for Europe targets. Its conclusions are based on this three-year research work and two similar monitoring projects (conducted in 2005-2007 and 2008-2010). The report was preceded by four interim reports published in the period of 2011-2014

The extent of the changes to legislation and consequently to regulatory systems observed in the electronic communications and the information society sectors of the nine countries has been considerable. However, the speed at which the electronic communications markets have been transformed has varied from country to country. One of the key factors determining the speed of transition from monopolies to competitive markets has been the progress made by policy makers in each country in adopting the enabling legal and regulatory frameworks. To put in place modern digital network infrastructures and competitive service delivery, the legal and regulatory frameworks need to be enablers, not barriers to investment. Investors – whether established operators or new market entrants – require confidence in the legal and regulatory framework to induce them to invest.

The first comparative part of the report analyses growth and competition trends in the fixed and mobile telephony and broadband sectors, provides assessment of national information society and electronic communications policies and key factors that have been crucial in determining progress towards information society.

The country chapters provide an overview of key regulatory and market developments in each country over the past three years and a description of the national institutional and legal frameworks for electronic communications and information society services. The investment-friendliness of each country’s regulatory system is examined in relation to the following main dimensions: fees and taxes specific to electronic communications sector, access to rights of way and construction permits and market entry conditions for fixed and mobile services, including authorisation regime, spectrum policy and access to spectrum and implementation of the key competitive safeguards. Each country chapter concludes with a short summary assessment that highlights the aspects that are most relevant for improving investment environment and that are linked to overall development of electronic communications and information society.

The final section of the report contains conclusions and recommendations that could be drawn from this monitoring project. As the monitored countries have a perspective of joining the EU, stable and predictable regulation can be best achieved by aligning national legislation with the EU acquis and national policies with the Digital Agenda for Europe, one of the flagship initiatives of the EU 2020 strategy which outlines policies and actions to maximise the benefit of the digital economy and high speed broadband for all. Therefore, the concluding section of this report also addresses some of the key policy and regulatory aspects that are crucial for bringing the enlargement countries up to speed with the process of achieving the ambitious targets set by the Digital Agenda for Europe.

*) This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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