European telecommunications commissioner Viviane Reding has warned the EU's national telecoms authorities that they must submit plans to regulate the single European market by 16 February. She said that failure to do so could mean they face ceding those powers to the European Commission.

The Commission wants the 27 national regulators to join forces to form an EU-wide independent body akin to the US Federal Communications Commission. It gave them until mid-February to submit plans in order to draft legislation by July.

"A European Union-wide regulator would be a temporary body. It would be disbanded once the transition to a single competitive telecoms market is over," said Martin Selmayr, Reding's spokesman.

Several of the national regulatory bodies have failed to prove they are independent from their governments and monopoly phone companies.

Currently, the national regulators enforce Europe-wide telecom rules in their own countries. However, they take different positions in interpreting the same rules. The UK, for example, has cracked down on former monopoly provider BT, while Commission officials complain that Germany has allowed Deutsche Telekom to keep a grip on the fixed-line local loop and even receive permission to build a high-speed Internet network without sharing access with competitors.

Some countries are creating their own telecom laws without consultation. The German regulator, for example, has failed to stop the German government from proposing a law that would grant the former monopoly Deutsche Telekom protection from competition. Other countries have failed to transpose European telecom rules into their national statute books.

Reding is conducting a review of all the laws agreed in the late 1990s designed to forge a single European telecom market out of all the national ones, with open competition throughout the EU.

Original story by IDG news service