France’s Ministere de l’Economie, du Redressement Productif et du Numerique has published Decree No. 2014-867 of 1 August 2014, which restores the sanctioning power of telecoms watchdog the Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep). The document sets the conditions for the implementation of Arcep’s power to sanction operators in the telecoms and postal services sectors. It also lays the conditions for the formation of settlement disputes, sets the rules for preliminary investigations and specifies the proceedings before Arcep is required to impose sanctions on operators not complying with its decisions.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the Constitutional Council (Conseil d’Etat) stripped the watchdog of its authority to sanction telecoms operators in July 2013, as it considered that the telecoms regulator was in non-compliance with the French Constitution’s principle of separation of power. However, in March 2014 the regulator regained its full authority, following a Council’s decision to introduce new sanctioning procedure in the electronic communications sectors, based on the French data protection authority Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes’ (CNIL’s) model. Under the new provisions, different members of the Arcep executive board will be assigned different tasks in order to ensure that the principle of separating investigative and sanctioning powers is met. A body comprising four board members, including the chairman of Arcep, will adopt decisions on formal notices, investigations, dispute settlements and inquiries, while the remaining three board members will make decisions on sanctions.