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PR(99)03: The EFTA Surveillance Authority questions the independence of the Norwegian telecommunications regulatory system

24.9.2002

The EFTA Surveillance Authority has on 24 March 1999 sent a letter of formal notice to Norway for a possible failure to comply with EEA rules in the field of telecommunications, in particular the Telecommunications Services Directive (90/388/EEC) and the ONP Framework Directive (90/387/EEC) as amended by Directive  97/51/EC.

The present case originates from a complaint alleging that the Norwegian telecom-munications regulatory system is not in compliance with the independence requirement in Article 7 of the Telecommunications Services Directive.

The Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications is the owner of the Norwegian telecommunications operator Telenor.  The same Ministry is also the appeals body for certain decisions taken by the Norwegian Post- and Telecommunications Authority in individual cases, as well as being vested with some regulatory functions.

In the Authority's view the position of the Ministry of Transport and Communications is incompatible with the requirements of Article 7 of the Telecommunications Services  Directive and Article 5a of the amended ONP Framework Directive.  These provisions stipulate that national regulatory authorities in the field of telecommunications shall be legally distinct from and functionally independent of all operators providing telecommunications networks and services.  If an EFTA State retains ownership of a telecommunications operator, a structural separation between ownership functions and regulatory functions shall be ensured.  The right of appeal to an independent appeals body of decisions in individual cases shall also be ensured.

The Norwegian Government has been invited to submit its observations to the content of the letter of formal notice within two months upon the receipt.  In light of these observations the Surveillance Authority will consider whether to proceed with the case.

For further information please contact Mr. Tor Arne Solberg-Johansen (Persons, Services and Capital Movements Directorate), telephone (+32)2 286 18 66. 

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