European Union (EU)

The origin of the European Union (EU) goes back to the beginning of the 1950s. It now has 28 Member States, called upon to work closely and to support each other. 

In some political spheres, the EU alone is competent for all the Member States. In other areas, it shares certain tasks with its members.

Since the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, the EU has contributed to the establishment and development of trans-European networks in the telecommunications sector. It also has to adopt measures intended to allow the free movement of services within the EU. To this end, as early as 2010 it adopted its "Digital Agenda for Europe" to best exploit the social and economic potential of information and communication technologies (ICT). In May 2015, the EU published its "Digital Single Market" strategy, aimed at eliminating all obstacles which block the development of a true digital single market.

In recent years, the EU has also adopted important legislative acts, in particular the "Telecoms Package", which aims to complete the single market in telecommunications. This package covers internet neutrality and international roaming (fixing of maximum tariffs for telephony, sending of SMS and data usage when travelling within the EU).

Another important European standard, the "Audiovisual Media Services" Directive relates not only to transfrontier television in the European area, but also to other audio-visual services such as on-demand television or pay-per-view television services. In addition, the EU plays an essential part in internet policy-making.

The role of OFCOM

In terms of telecommunication and audio-visual services, the proximity of the Swiss and European markets requires institutional relations and international coordination. Taking into account the rapid evolution of ICT, the regulatory authorities are being faced with ever greater challenges (such as internet security, spam or the management of generic domain names). To meet these challenges, OFCOM maintains harmonious and constructive relations with the competent EU authorities.

The telecommunications market was liberalised simultaneously in Switzerland and the EU in 1992. Since the Member States of the EU and Switzerland faced the same problems, increased collaboration and exchanges of information were essential in order to find solutions. These exchanges are still taking place today in working groups of the European Commission, where OFCOM shares its experience with the Member States on many topics (from internet governance to the information society and from e-commerce to the management of the electromagnetic spectrum). OFCOM also maintains good contacts with the European regulatory authorities.

In Switzerland, the commissioning of telecommunications installations and electrical equipment is facilitated thanks to a harmonised procedure agreed with the EU. Reciprocal recognition in terms of conformity assessment is defined in a bilateral sectoral agreement.

OFCOM took part in the negotiations leading to the bilateral agreement allowing the participation of Switzerland in the EU "MEDIA" programme for the period 2007-2014. This program supports transfrontier collaboration in the cinema sector. The Swiss legislation on radio and television has been adapted to a number of provisions of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

In addition, an OFCOM expert assigned to the Swiss Mission to the EU is responsible for representing the interests of Switzerland to the EU in the areas which fall within the Office's area of competency. It also has the task of monitoring recent European policy developments in these areas.

Specialist staff
Last modification 31.10.2010

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