Our commitment to net neutrality
EU rules on net neutrality (open internet) apply as of 30 April 2016, following the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 on 25 November 2015 by the European Parliament and the Council.
This regulation is a major achievement for the Digital Single Market. It creates the individual and enforceable right for end-users in the EU to access and distribute internet content and services of their choice. The Regulation also enshrines the principle of non-discriminatory traffic management. Common EU rules on net neutrality ensure that the same provisions apply across Europe.
The enforcement of the open internet rules is an important task of national regulatory authorities which should respect the guidelines adopted by BEREC in August 2016. The Commission continues to monitor closely the application of the Regulation.
In the EU, it is not up to internet service providers to arbitrate the success or failure of the services and content distributed. European internet users are thus protected and can continue using the internet as they are used to.
The infographic shows the principles of net neutrality
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. Under these rules, blocking, throttling and discrimination of internet traffic by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) is not allowed in the EU, save for three exhaustive exceptions (compliance with legal obligations; integrity of the network; congestion management in exceptional and temporary situations) and users are free to use their favourite apps and services.
All traffic has to be treated equally. This means, for example, that there can be no prioritisation of traffic in the internet access service. At the same time, equal treatment allows reasonable day-to-day traffic management according to objectively 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.
The Regulation also clarifies the requirements regarding the provision of specialised services with specific quality requirements by internet access providers and providers of content and applications. They must respect certain safeguards to ensure that the open internet is not negatively affected by the provision of these services. Specialised services cannot be a substitute to internet access services, they can only be provided if there is sufficient network capacity to provide them in addition to any internet access service and they must not be to the detriment of the availability or general quality of internet access services for end-users.
The role of regulators and BEREC guidelines
National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) have to monitor market developments. They have the powers and the obligation to assess traffic management, comercial practices and agreements and to effectively enforce the Regulation.
NRAs also have to ensure that the quality of the Internet access service reflects advances in technology. They are empowered to set minimum quality of service requirements on Internet access providers and other appropriate measures to ensure that all end-users enjoy an open Internet access service of good quality.
On 30 August 2016 the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), in close cooperation with the Commission and after having consulted stakeholders, issued guidelines for the implementation of the obligations of NRAs in order to contribute to the consistent application of this Regulation. The guidelines help NRAs to assess inter alia agreements and commercial practices and ''specialised services'' against a common benchmark, and to reach consistent decisions and enforcement actions.
Annual country reports on open internet from national regulators
According to Article 5 of the Regulation, national regulatory authorities (NRAs) have to closely monitor and ensure compliance with the provisions on open internet. NRAs are requested to publish annual reports and share these with the Commission and BEREC.
The Commission makes available the annual country reports from national regulators on open internet received.
These reports were prepared by the national regulatory authorities (NRAs) and sent to the Commission and BEREC. The first set covers the first 12 months of applicability of the open internet rules, i.e. from end of April 2016 to end of April 2017.
The reports serve as a basis for BEREC's Report on the implementation of the net neutrality rules adopted at the end of 2017. The reports will also be used by the Commission in the next Europe's Digital Progress Report in 2018.
- BEREC Report on the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 and BEREC Net Neutrality Guidelines
- BEREC Guidelines on the Implementation by National Regulators of European Net Neutrality Rules
- Statement by Vice-President Ansip and Commissioner Oettinger welcoming guidelines on EU net neutrality rules by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC)
- Press release: bringing down barriers in the Digital Single Market: No roaming charges as of June 2017
- Roaming charges and open internet: Questions and Answers (October 2015)
- Günther H.Oettinger statement on net neutrality (October 2015)
- Vice-President's opinion piece on Net Neutrality in Le Monde (December 2017)