The importance of the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean Regulators Network lies in supporting the liberalization of telecommunications markets in Mediterranean countries
July 14, 2008
Dr. Kamal Shehadi, Chairman and CEO of the “Telecommunications Regulatory Authority” (TRA) announced that the European Regulators Group and the Mediterranean Telecommunications Regulators have succeeded in founding a non-official Euro-Mediterranean Network aiming at strengthening the co-operation between Euro-Mediterranean Telecommunications Regulatory Authorities in the region.
Dr. Shehadi stated that the TRA represented Lebanon during the meetings, held in Malta, and which resulted in the founding of this network. ” . He noted that:“this network marks an important stepping stone for us, since it will activate co-operation and coordination between Arab and European Telecommunications Regulatory Authorities and will support the liberalization of the telecommunications sector in these markets across Mediterranean countries.
Participants on the panel included deputy ministers of Telecommunications of both Syria and Palestine, representatives of Regulatory Authorities in Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Turkey, the president of the EU Telecommunications and Information Technologies as well as representatives of regulatory authorities in Austria, Switzerland, Spain, France, Greece, Italy and Slovenia, with Malta heading the meeting.
The participants’ final declaration stated that “following the ideals and principles of the Euro-Mediterranean co-operation set out in the Barcelona Declaration, as further elaborated in the second euro-Mediterranean ministerial conference on the information society, electronic communications regulatory authorities in the Euro-Mediterranean region have joined forces to strengthen their co-operation and set up a network that aims to facilitate the sharing of experiences and the organisation of neighbourly co-operation: the Euro-Mediterranean network of Regulators (EMERG).”
In addition “this network is intended to facilitate an ambitious program of activities including: the joint analysis of progress and development of the markets and the regulatory frameworks in the region (benchmarking); promoting a co-ordinated approach on regulatory methodology and on harmonization with the principles of the EU framework; joint efforts at regional level in knowledge transfer and information exchange, also with a view to achieving a shared sense of direction; and bilateral assistance and co-operation.”
The electronic communications regulatory authorities of the Mediterranean region-both EU member states and its neighbouring countries- recognise that they are encountering similar challenges and opportunities in their efforts towards the promotion of competition into these markets and the establishment of a level playing field for undertakings. They share common objectives in seeking to adopt regulatory measures to create a sustainable electronic communications market for the benefit of consumers and businesses, and bridge the digital divide, hence, diffusing the benefits of the information society to all by providing universal service.
However, differences in market structures across the region, national specificities and differences in regulatory approaches exist. The electronic communications regulatory authorities recognise that greater harmonization of the principles of the regulatory frameworks is required in the electronic communications market.
According to the declaration, such harmonization will contribute to creating a level playing field in the entire region; and promote regulatory predictability as well as economic efficiencies and investment. This will serve individual national development efforts, which could maximise the positive socioeconomic impact of electronic communications in these countries, especially those in the developing/emerging phase. Accordingly, neighbourly co-operation is a logical and effective way to facilitate the achievement of these objectives.
The Governments of the participating countries and the European Commission have embarked on a course of close co-operation and approximation, through the Barcelona Process and the European Neighbourhood Policy, which should be prioritized in the work of the electronic communications regulatory authorities of the region due to the special neighbourly relations and shared interests of security and prosperity.
Regarding the regulatory reform and harmonization, co-operation in the non-EU Mediterranean countries has taken place since 2001 through the NATP-I and NATP-II projects funded by the European Commission, with the latter expiring in 2008. These efforts have identified clear benefits of co-operation in the Euro-Med region among regulatory authorities of both EU and non-EU member Countries.
In that regard, a group of Euro-Mediterranean communications market regulators has set up an informal network for the enhancement of Euro-Mediterranean regulatory co-operation.
The final declaration highlights that participation in the activities of this network shall be open to all regulatory authorities that form part of the Barcelona process and/or are members or observers in the European Regulators Group (ERG). The establishment of the network will facilitate close co-operation with the European Regulators Group as a whole and count on the continued involvement of the individual members of the ERG in cross-Mediterranean co-operation.
The regulators expressed their appreciation towards the European Commission commitment to sector developments in the region. They are prepared to make available resources on a voluntary basis, to set up and manage the network. They are also confident of the European Commission’s continuing support of this initiative and of its best efforts to co-fund the network and associated regulatory activities.