Promoting competition and protecting consumers: EU-Israel telecommunications twinning reviews achievements
An EU-funded project which aimed to foster competition in the Israeli telecommunications markets and increase protection in the field for Israeli consumers has just come to an end after 16 months of close cooperation. The twinning project in the field of communications held its closing conference last week, with the participation of the Head of the EU Delegation to Israel, the Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Communications and representatives from the European partners (the consortium created by the telecommunications regulators from Germany (BNetzA), Spain (CMT) and Italy (AGCOM)) as well as the operators and associations of the telecommunications market in Israel.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Israel, Ambassador Andrew Standley, underlined the symbolic dimension of the project, which emphasises the need for pooling forces and upholding competitiveness in the context of the current economic crisis. Ambassador Standley spoke of the “the many tangible contributions and results of the twinning project, which contribute to the reinforcement of the regulator’s role in ensuring a smooth functioning of the communications market that achieves a high level of consumer protection”.
He expressed his confidence that the Israeli government would establish a national and independent regulator soon in line with the most advanced EU framework.
The project’s budget amounted to €600,000 and lasted 16 months starting from February 2011. Over this time, EU partners sent around 50 experts and devoted to the project around 350 man days.
During the project, the Ministry of Communications and EU experts worked at pricing methodologies for technologically neutral wholesale market regulation, differences between regulatory frameworks and a roadmap for desired approximation, data collection, enforcement methods and objectives, dispute resolution, consumer protection, and technical aspects of the Israeli wholesale market.
Twinning is a European Commission initiative that was originally designed to help EU candidate countries acquire the necessary skills and experience to adopt, implement and enforce EU legislation. Since 2003, twinning has been available to some of the Newly Independent States of Eastern Europe and to countries of the Mediterranean region. Twinning projects bring together public sector expertise from EU Member States and beneficiary countries with the aim of enhancing co-operative activities. They must yield concrete operational results for the beneficiary country under the terms of the Association Agreement between that country and the EU.
Twinning projects such as this one create long-lasting relations between Israeli and European administrations. They also prepare the ground for many future accomplishments and reinforce the solid ties between the European Union, its Member States and Israel. Drawing on the success of this project and on the recent twinning projects on veterinary services, equal employment opportunities, transportation and data protection, the State of Israel and the Delegation of the EU to Israel are preparing new projects in various fields (rural development, statistics, energy and environment). (EU Neighbourhood Info)