The European Commission has sent letters to 11 of its 25 member states, warning them that unless they properly police their telecoms markets, it will take them to the European Court of Justice.

The letters addressed to the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Finland warned that large fines would be levied on each government until they address failings.

Most of the letters concern failure to offer number portability, which acts as a disincentive for users to switch operators. Another problem is that some countries are not offering a comprehensive printed directory for fixed and mobile phone users or a directory inquiries service for fixed and mobile users. This would put customers of mobile operators, especially businesses, at a disadvantage if their numbers could not be looked up easily.

Finland was told that its telecom regulator is not sufficiently independent of the government ministry. Poland was told it must ensure that the EU-wide emergency services number "112" works properly on its territory.

The member states concerned now have two months to respond to the Commission's concerns. The Commission will then examine their answers to see if the failings have been addressed. But Poland and Latvia have received final warnings and face challenges in the European Court of Justice if they do not make the necessary changes. The Court can fine member states that fail to comply with the Commission's demands.

The Commission is still assessing responses to warning letters sent to other member states including Germany, the EU's biggest telephone market, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and Portugal.


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