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Transposition of European Electronic Communications Code Finally Published for Consultation in Malta

The European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), published on the 17th of December 2018, aims to revamp electronic communications laws at an EU level, consolidating the same under one main instrument.

Despite Member States having until the 21st of December 2020 to implement the EECC’s provisions into their national law, Malta only published its consultation document for the respective changes on the 11th of January 2021, which effectively means that Malta will inevitably transpose the EECC late.

Essentially, the EECC creates a revised and modernised version of the EU telecoms regulatory framework which currently serves as the foundation of the Maltese electronic communications sector.

Most of Malta’s existing telco legislation will be amended to transpose the EECC. In fact, amendments are proposed to be made to:

  • The Malta Communications Authority Act (Chapter 418)
  • The Utilities and Services (Regulation of Certain Works) Act (Chapter 81)
  • The Electronic Communications (Regulation) Act (Chapter 399)
  • The Single European Emergency Call Service (‘112’ number) and The European Harmonised Services of Social Value (‘116’ numbering range) Regulations (S.L. 399.43)

Furthermore, the enactment of a new regulation to completely replace the current ‘Electronic Communications Networks and Services (General) Regulations’ (SL 399.28) is also being proposed.

Overview of the EECC

The fundamental objectives of the regulatory framework are to:

  • Consolidate all EU telco legislation into one instrument.
  • Boost the investment in very high capacity networks and services through sustainable competition, such as backing the roll-out of full fibre networks.
  • Support efficient and effective use of radio spectrum frequencies, such as by supporting the roll-out of 5G.
  • Maintain the security of networks and services, and
  • Provide and ensure an effective high level of consumer protection and engagement.

The EECC also establishes the objectives and functions of national regulatory authorities (NRAs) and other competent authorities. The EECC also widens the definition of electronic communications service by bringing number-independent interpersonal communication services (including internet phone and messaging services) into the scope of certain elements of the telecoms framework.

The regulatory framework also includes the new Regulation establishing the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (‘BEREC’), of which all NRAs of all the EU Member States are members. The BEREC advises the EU institutions on the consistent application of electronic communications regulation across the EU.

Malta’s Approach to Implementing the EECC

Malta’s approach in implementing the EECC in terms of the consultation issued is to implement the EECC with as little impact as possible on businesses, in a manner that will nonetheless allow both businesses and consumers to benefit from all opportunities provided by the EECC. Seeking to kill two birds with one stone, the consultation proposes to use this opportunity to also propose improvements and amendments to the law to reflect the particulars of Malta’s evolving electronic communications market (within the boundaries of the EECC). The consultation document provides an overview of all the proposed amendments, with the consolidated versions of the proposed amendments to the Act and regulations also included in the appendices of the document.

Persons interested in making submissions on the proposed amendments are invited to do so by not later than 15th March 2021.

Click here to access the consultation document.

This article was written by Legal Associate Dr Gigi Gatt.

For more information on telecoms and technology laws, please contact Dr Ian Gauci and Dr Terence Cassar.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to impart legal advice and readers are asked to seek verification of statements made before acting on them.