Discussion Papers

No. 420: Economic chances and risks of an extensive harmonisation and centralisation of European telecommunications regulation

(Full version only available in German) 

Authors: J. Scott Marcus, Christian Wernick, Tseveen Gantumur, Christin Gries


The objective of this study is to provide an objective view on the discussion of costs and benefits of a stronger harmonisation or centralisation of European electronic communications regulation. 

Starting from a discussion about the institutional design of the European Union, the ongoing debate about Europe’s future after the Brexit decision and the White Paper on the future of Europe recently presented by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, we address potential measures to enhance harmonisation and centralisation in relevant segments of the electronic communications market. Based on this, different scenarios are defined and evaluated in an impact assessment.  

From our perspective, evolutionary enhancement of regulation under the existing regime seems to be most suitable for the harmonisation of future electronic communications regulation. While some existing aspects of the European Framework Directive and its implementation would tend to benefit from a stronger harmonisation, others seem to require a substantial adaption to local, national and regional requirements. 

Beyond the key topics of broadband connectivity and frequency management that would profit from stronger harmonization in specific aspects, there is also the possibility to simplify some less prominent regulatory aspects by means of a stronger harmonisation. This would result in reduced transaction costs and enhanced efficiency.  

Overall, the approach to harmonisation needs careful consideration, as not only potential positive effects on the level of the European single market but also implications on member states (that could vary by member state and by measure) have to be taken into account. 

Discussion Paper is available for download.

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