By Angela Daly – Edited by Katherine Zimmerman
This contribution will consider current moves in the European Union (EU) to legislate net neutrality regulation at the regional level. The existing regulatory landscape governing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the EU will be outlined, along with net neutrality initiatives at the national level in countries such as Slovenia and the Netherlands. The new proposals to introduce enforceable net neutrality rules throughout the EU will be detailed, with comparison made to the recent FCC proposals in the US, and the extent to which these proposals can be considered adequate to advance the interests of Internet users.
2. Existing regulatory landscape in the EU
Various provisions from existing EU telecoms regulation are relevant to net neutrality. This regulatory framework has promoted intra-platform competition by stimulating competition at the retail, consumer-facing level for fixed line telecoms, rather than inter-platform competition between different technologies such as cable and copper wires — a feature of the US regulatory landscape. EU telecoms regulation has pursued a ‘technology neutral’ policy, more concerned with the extent to which markets are competitive than the type of technology used to deliver services. If a market is not competitive, then ex ante regulation will be applied with the idea that the regulation will no longer be needed once competition has been achieved, and market-based solutions suffice.