Cooperation between European regulators
OFCOM, in cooperation with other European regulatory authorities, is monitoring the evolution of the regulation of electronic communications. OFCOM participates in two organisations: the Independent Regulators Group (IRG) and the EU institution BEREC. The participation of the Swiss authority in both organisations is important for its regulatory activities.
The Independent Regulators Group (IRG)
The Independent Regulators Group (IRG) enables its members to exchange experiences and viewpoints on interconnection, call charges, the universal service and other important topics which relate to the regulation and development of the telecommunications market in Europe.
OFCOM accompanies the President of the Federal Communications Commission (ComCom) to the meetings of the IRG and is present in an advisory capacity.
The IRG has existed informally since 1993. In 1997, nineteen national regulatory authorities formally established the IRG with the aim of exchanging experiences on topics of common interest. Today, in addition to OFCOM, more than 30 regulators are members.
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC)
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) deals with questions of EU telecoms regulation. The authority replaces the European Regulators Group (ERG) which has existed since 2005.
BEREC's main task is to support and advise the telecommunications regulatory authorities of the EU Member States, the European Commission and the European Parliament. This activity mainly takes the form of reports and statements. BEREC helps to implement the new EU directives on electronic communications. The intention is that the participating institutions will be able to coordinate and cooperate better with each other, so that the EU's internal market for electronic communication can be promoted.
BEREC was established in November 2009, after long negotiations on a reform of EU telecommunications legislation.
In organisational terms, BEREC consists of a Board and its associated Office. The Board, simply speaking, is a round table around which the directors of the EU regulatory authorities assemble and perform the main tasks in relation to telecommunications regulation. The decisions of the Board are usually adopted by a two-thirds majority of all its members. This is a significant change from the previous organisation, the ERG, whose decisions always had to be taken unanimously. It is hoped that this will lead to more dynamic EU regulation. The Board may also set up working groups with the participation of experts. The Office, financed from the EU budget, supports the Board and its working groups with expertise, statistics and information on tried-and-tested regulatory practices.
Candidate countries and EFTA countries belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) automatically have observer status within BEREC. BEREC can also invite other regulatory bodies to its meetings as observers. Switzerland has accordingly participated regularly in the meetings of BEREC.