Reding Replaced as Europe's Telecom Watchdog

After years of plaguing European telecom operators with new rules that cut the tariffs for mobile roaming and data services, Viviane Reding is to move from her current role as Information Society Commissioner to be in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, and become a vice-president of the European Commission. (See EU Roaming Charges Cut, EC Acts on Termination Rates, Reding Urges Ambition, Reding Attacks Again, and EU Adds Mobile Law.)

Part of her job will be to rewrite the data protection laws covering the European Union's member states.

But any operator breathing a sigh of relief that Reding's reign is over best think again – her replacement is the equally (if not more) formidable Dutch politician Neelie Kroes, who has spent the past five years putting the likes of Microsoft and Oracle through the European regulatory blender as the Competition Commissioner. (Check out this Financial Times profile for more background.)

Kroes will become the Digital Agenda Commissioner (combining the Information Society and European Network and Information Security Agency), and be a vice president of the European Commission. Both she and Reding will take their new posts at the end of January 2010, when the new European Commission term is set to begin. It will run until the end of October 2014.

This means Kroes will be in charge of introducing new regulations concerning next generation broadband access networks. (See EC Consults on Next-Gen Access and FTTH Concerns for Europe.)

News of the appointments comes only days after the European Parliament approved the European Union's telecoms reform package, which aims to create a single European telecoms market, enhance competition, and provide the region's consumers with new rights. (See Europe Approves Regulatory Reform.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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