The Impacts of the Mercosur and European Union Agreement on Telecommunications in Brazil

In any case, it is an important step in bringing the countries of South America, which are part of Mercosur, closer to Europe

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Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Consultant in Communication Law, with a focus on Technologies, Media, and Telecommunications. PhD in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP).

 

Mercosur and the European Union entered into a proposed trade agreement with impact on various economic activities. The aim is to promote trade freedom of services and business establishments. But the agreement still must be approved internally by the legislature of each of the participating countries. In any case, it is an important step in bringing the countries of South America, which are part of Mercosur, closer to Europe. Regarding the telecommunications industry, there are several provisions that authorize service providers from any of the countries that have signed the agreement to establish, build, acquire, assign, operate or provide telecommunications networks or services. Broadcasting services, as well as services providing editorial content are excluded from the commercial agreement. According to the agreement, the telecommunications regulatory authorities must publish their regulatory acts in a clear manner, to simplify their understanding. In addition, regulatory procedures must be impartial, with respect to all market participants. Licenses to provide telecommunications services should be granted, where possible, following a simplified procedure. The reasons for denying a license to provide telecommunications services must be known. Countries should adopt practices to protect competition and repress abuses by the dominant power. Also, the parties must ensure that the major telecommunications providers guarantee the right of access to other competitors in a reasonable and non-discriminatory manner. Any telecommunications service provider has the right to negotiate interconnection with other providers. For scarce resources such as radio spectrum, public allocation policies should be objective, timely, transparent, and non-discriminatory. The frequency allocation plan must be publicly available. Each country has the right to define what the universal services are. On the other hand, the Parties must ensure the confidentiality of telecommunications and data traffic on public telecommunications networks to avoid arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination in the trade of such services. Furthermore, the parties must ensure transparency and reasonable prices for international roaming services, to promote trade growth between countries and consumer welfare. The agreement also provides for freedom of trade. However, it establishes some technical barriers to trade. Thus, Annex I contains safety rules regarding electronic and electrical equipment. Also, on the electromagnetic compatibility of equipment using radiocommunication. In addition, there are standards on energy efficiency certificates of products. And the restriction of toxic substances in electronic and electrical equipment. Moreover, it holds procedures for the declaration of technical conformity of the supplier of products, based on their responsibility before a certification body. And, still, there is the possibility of international mutual recognition through a validation system. In this regard, a Mercosur country may request technical recognition based on its legislation and regulations in bilateral agreements, including memorandum of understanding. In being recognized as valid the declaration of technical conformity, according to European Union’s procedure, the report of the test carried out by the advisory bodies located in the Mercosur countries, the document is valid before the European Union and its technical regulations.  In addition to these subjects, the agreement provides for rules on e-commerce. For the time being, the agreement between Mercosur and the European Union is still under negotiation. The parliaments of the respective countries integrating the two regional blocs must adopt the procedures for approval of the aforementioned international treaty and incorporate it into their internal law. It should be noted that the European Union and the United States, in 1999, already signed an agreement on mutual recognition of telecommunications equipment and electromagnetic compatibility of products.[1] Also, the United States and the United Kingdom signed an agreement for mutual recognition of telecommunications equipment in 2011.[2] In short, this agreement between Mercosur and the European Union is an important step towards the international trade of telecommunications products and services, as well as the affirmation of international law related to the mutual recognition of declarations of technical conformity for telecommunications equipment, harmonizing international rules that impact telecommunications services.  Even more so now in the context of 5G technology and IoT devices, this international regulatory standardization is essential.  As mentioned, the integration of the international agreement depends on ratification by the parliaments of the countries that make up the two regional blocs, something that will take a few years.

[1] Agreement on mutual recognition between the European Community and the United States of America, which encompasses: Telecommunication equipment, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), electrical safety, recreational craft, pharmaceutical good manufacturing practices e medical devices.

[2]See: Agreement on mutual recognition between The United States of America and The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, covering: telecommunications equipment, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC0) and pharmaceutical good manufacturing practices (GMPS0.

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