France launches public consultation on transposition of the EECC

The French Government recently unveiled extracts of the draft text transposing the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) into French law. The transposition work is under the responsibility of the Ministry for Economy and Finance (in collaboration with other Ministries where necessary) and more precisely the Directorate-General for Enterprise (“DGE”) and the Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Prevention of Fraud (“DGCCRF”). It is also worth noting that the Government asked the Parliament to empower it to take the necessary legislative provisions by way of ordinance.

The draft text is divided into eight annexes containing consolidated versions of the provisions of the French Post and Electronic Communications Code (“PECC”) and the Consumer Code impacted by the transposition.

Some of the main developments are the following:

New definitions are introduced, notably to reflect the extension of the electronic communications regulation’s scope to over-the-top players’ communications services. The draft text also makes a finer characterisation of fixed networks (with the introduction of the notions of very high capacity networks and very high speed electronic communications networks).

In terms of governance, the draft text provides that members of the French telecommunications regulatory authority (the “ARCEP”) must be appointed following an open and transparent procedure, in line with article 7 of the EECC. However, there is no substantial modification of the functioning of the regulator or the sharing of competences between the ARCEP and the Ministry in charge of electronic communications.

Regarding operators’ legal obligations, the draft text suppresses the requirement for operators to file a notification to the ARCEP prior to commencing provision of regulated services and networks. Other important changes concern the obligations relating to security, emergency communications and alerts to be transmitted to the public in the event of an imminent or developing disaster.

The scope of the universal service is revised to ensure that all consumers have access at an affordable price to an available adequate broadband internet access service. New provisions are introduced in the PECC to empower the ARCEP to monitor the evolution and level of retail prices of the services falling under the universal service.

It is also worth noting that the draft text grants the ARCEP the power to allocate numbers to undertakings other than providers of electronic communication services or networks, taking into account the growing interest for numbers expressed in the context of IoT-related services.

The provisions of the Consumer Code on information and electronic communications contracts are significantly modified with the aim to achieve the EECC’s goal of full or maximum harmonisation concerning end-user facing requirements.

The Government has requested comments from all interested organisations. The consultation is open until 16 March 2020. According to the terms of the EECC, the changes to national law should take effect at the latest on 21 December 2020.

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