Intereconomics 2017 | 4
• What degree of harmonisation is desirable? What de-
gree is realistically achievable?
Against this backdrop, our paper focuses on two aspects
with particular relevance to the issue of harmonisation:
market entry and spectrum regulation.
We begin by ex-
ploring the beneﬁ ts and drawbacks to centralisation and
harmonisation. We then consider interventions that might
be undertaken to enhance harmonisation in two key tele-
communications policy areas, market entry and spectrum
management. Finally, we assess the relative merits of vari-
ous options for achieving greater harmonisation at the Eu-
ropean level in these two policy areas and then draw some
ralisation versus decentralisation, harmonisation
In this section, we consider the overall rationale for a Eu-
opean Single Market for electronic communications. We
then seek to place the historical evolution of the EU in
context. We continue with an exploration of the European
Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications
(RFEC). Finally, we consider the degree to which uniformity
(as distinct from harmonisation) is desirable or realistically
achievable in the regulation of electronic communications
What motivates the interest in consistency and
While the many beneﬁ ts of a European Single Market are
well known, what advantages does a single market for
electronic communications offer? Of particular importance
is the ability to use the same communications services
everywhere (e.g. roaming) and the increased efﬁ ciency for
Despite the advantages of a single centralised market, we
Europeans also embrace cultural and linguistic pluralism,
2 In our discussion paper, we also address the issues of access to the
last mile; NGA and broadband; interconnection, international calls
and roaming; and media policy. See J.S. Marcus, C. Wernick, T.
Gantumur, C. Gries: Ökonomische Chancen und Risiken einer
weitreichenden Harmonisierung und Zentralisierung der TK-Reguli-
erung in Europa, WIK Diskussionsbeitrag No. 420, 21 June 2017.
he European Commission’s 2013 proposed Telecoms
Single Market (TSM) legislative package sought to achieve
a Single European Market for electronic communications
solely by means of regulatory harmonisation.
This ﬂ awed
approach was rejected by both the European Parliament
and the European Council, leading to a more balanced set
of Commission legislative proposals in 2016. These are
currently the subject of intensive discussions in the course
of the trialogue process.
Despite the ongoing discussion on the new proposals,
the Commission’s original 2013 proposal can nonetheless
serve as the basis for important generic reﬂ ections on har-
monisation at the European level:
• Why do we seek regulatory harmonisation?
• How does harmonisation differ from uniformity?
• What beneﬁ ts ﬂ ow from centralisation, and what ben-
eﬁ ts from decentralisation?
• Is the European Union in fact a union?
• To what extent do the member states differ from one
another in ways that are not readily altered in the near
* This project draws on the results of a research project conducted for
the BNetzA, the German National Regulatory Authority. The views ex-
pressed, however, are solely those of the authors and do not neces-
sarily reﬂ ect the views of the BNetzA. A more detailed version of this
paper in German has been published as a WIK discussion paper. See
J.S. Marcus, C. Wernick, T. Gantumur, C. Gries: Ökonomische
Chancen und Risiken einer weitreichenden Harmonisierung und Zen-
tralisierung der TK-Regulierung in Europa, WIK Diskussionsbeitrag
No. 420, 21 June 2017.
1 See European Commission: Proposal for a regulation of the Euro-
pean Parliament and the Council laying down measures concerning
the European single market for electronic communications and to
achieve a Connected Continent, and amending Directives 2002/20/
EC, 2002/21/EC and 2002/22/EC and Regulations (EC) No. 1211/2009
and (EU) No. 531/2012, COM(2013) 627 ﬁ nal, 11 September 2013.
J. Scott Marcus and Christian Wernick*
Economic Implications of Further Harmonisation of Electronic
Communications Regulation in the EU
J. Scott Marcus, Bruegel, Brussels, Belgium.
Christian Wernick, WIK-Consult GmbH, Bad Hon-