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European Parliament, Directive 2002/19/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on access to, and interconnection of, electronic communications networks and associated facilities (Access Directive) (full-text), as amended, Directive 2009/140/EC, Off. J.L. 337 of 18.12.2009 (full-text).
This Directive establishes rights and obligations for operators and for undertakings seeking interconnection and/or access to their networks. The principle is to allow competition rules to act as an instrument for market regulation. However, insofar as there is no effective competition on the market, the national regulatory authorities (NRA) must act, among other things by imposing obligations on operators which have significant market power.
The objective is to establish a framework which will encourage competition by stimulating the development of communications services and networks, and also to ensure that any bottlenecks in the market do not constrain the emergence of innovative services that could benefit the users. The approach adopted is technologically neutral, i.e. the Directive is not intended to introduce rules which could be adapted to technological progress but, instead, to establish a modus operandi to address market problems.
The Directive applies to all forms of communication networks carrying publicly available communications services. These include fixed telecommunications network and mobile telecommunications networks, networks used for terrestrial broadcasting, cable TV networks, and satellite and Internet networks used for voice, fax, data and image transmission.