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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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).
Directive 2002/21/ EC on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services
Directive 2002/20/ EC on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services
Regulation 182/2011/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers (OJ L 55 of 28.2.2011, p.13.)