Euro Parliament abandons super-regulator plan

Viviane Reding warns against problems with lax oversight

BRUSSELS -- Plans to create a new EU super-regulator for broadband and telecoms issues have been scrapped by the European Parliament, raising concerns about whether market forces alone can deliver new media services to consumers.

The proposals for a telecoms watchdog, championed by EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding, were aimed at ensuring that operators deliver better and cheaper services. Reding argued that lax oversight has left many of the EU's 27 national markets dominated by a single operator -- usually a former state-owned monopoly -- with little incentive to develop new services such as VOD and mobile TV.

But the MEPs rejected Reding's proposals for a pan-European regulatory authority, saying they would be cumbersome and bureaucratic. They did, however, agree to boost the existing informal network of national European regulators, into a Body of European Regulators in Telecommunications.

While Reding said that she welcomed the good intentions behind BERT, she added, "I doubt whether it can deliver coherent regulatory responses to the regulatory obstacles still far too present in Europe's single telecoms market."