Hola! As yesterday’s readers will know, I am currently in Madrid working from Olswang’s new Spanish office, soI thought it appropriate to give today’s post something of a Spanish slant as Spain has been attracting Neelie Kroes‘ (Europe’s Digital Agenda Commissioner) ire this week.
On 14 March she referred Spain (and France) to the European Court of Justice on the basis that their imposition of turnover related levies which were then directed towards funding broadcasters. The Commission press release notes that: ‘A law on financing the Spanish public broadcaster RTVE entered into force in September 2009 and imposed a charge of 0.9% on the gross revenues of telecoms operators to make up for the loss of revenue from paid advertising this broadcaster. In October 2010, telecoms operators made the first payments to CMT, the national telecoms regulator. The charge was expected to generate revenue of around €230 million in 2010.’ and goes on to explain that the basis of the reference: the levy is incompatible with EU telecoms rules and in particular Article 12 of the telecoms Authorisation Directive (2002/20/CE), which provides that charges can be levied on telecoms operators only to cover certain administrative and regulatory costs (mainly authorisations and regulatory functions) and should be objective, transparent and proportionate.
On the same day, she requested Spain (and this time Hungary as well) get on with ensuring that the necessary national implementation rules are in place to permit refarming of existing 900 MHz GSM spectrum by the 9 May deadline. Whilst the request has no legal force, the Commission is clearly concerned at the apparent lack of progress and failure to respond may well lead to further infringement action against Spain.