The European Commission is currently working on the review of the 2002 Guidelines on market analysis and the assessment of significant market power (SMP Guidelines). The SMP Guidelines set out principles for use by national regulators when intervening in telecoms markets. They explain how to delineate the boundaries of such markets and how to assess whether regulatory measures, such as obligations on dominant network operators to give wholesale access to competitors, are necessary to make them work effectively, under the EU telecoms rules.
The draft revised Guidelines reflect developments in case-law and address issues which have become more prominent in recent years, such as the transition from monopolistic to oligopolistic market structures in some countries. While oligopolistic markets are often characterised by strong competition, they are perceived as difficult to tackle when this is not the case. The revised Guidelines will give practical guidance to regulators on how to identify market failures, such as coordinated anti-competitive strategies by network operators, in a legally secure manner, and will therefore enhance predictability for all market participants. Appropriate regulation and greater regulatory predictability for network investors are also central aims of the proposed European Electronic Communications Code, on which legislative discussions should also conclude in the first half of 2018.
The Commission has now asked BEREC (the Body of Regulators for Electronic Communications) to provide an opinion on drafts of the revised SMP Guidelines and its accompanying Explanatory Note. The Commission will take this opinion into account before the adoption of the revised Guidelines and Explanatory Note, which is currently scheduled for the end of April.
In the interest of transparency, the draft Guidelines and its accompanying draft Explanatory Note are also published online. Neither document is yet final, they serve as a basis for discussion with BEREC, which is the main interlocutor of the Commission at this stage of the review process.
Last year the Commission launched a public consultation and commissioned an external study on the review.