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EU and BT in Europe

In EU countries, electronic communications networks and services are governed by Directives and Regulations set by the European Institutions. These create an EU-wide framework (the Common Regulatory Framework) for fixed and wireless telecoms, internet, broadcasting and transmission services.

The Directives are there to encourage competition, which in turn leads to better investment, lower prices and increased quality of service in fixed and mobile networks, and better protection for consumers. They require national regulators to review markets for significant market power (SSMP) every three years and where relevant, to put in place appropriate and proportionate remedies. They also include rules covering spectrum, consumer protection and universal service obligations.

BT’s businesses in the UK (across telecoms, broadband, TV and mobile) are being, and have been, supported by EU digital regulation, much of it shaped by the UK Government in driving for a Telecoms and Digital Single Market. We have over 7000 people in continental Europe providing B2B services including connectivity, corporate networks, cloud solutions and cybersecurity. Major customers include the EU institutions and NATO. We have a presence in all EU27 outside the UK, with substantial activities in Germany, Benelux, Spain, Italy, France and Hungary.

BT is therefore keen to see a constructive and enduring relationship with the EU to and through Brexit. We have provided evidence to Parliamentary inquiries and have of course met with Ministers and officials.

Our five priorities areas are in summary below.

People: certainty as soon as possible for current employees of all nationalities and location (where we welcome ongoing Government efforts to achieve an early resolution), continued access to scarce talent and resources, and the ability to move skilled people throughout the EU on an intra-corporate basis.

Data flows: no restrictions on trans-border data flows, nor obligations on data localisation in the UK or EU. The UK must be seen as an equivalent regime for data security and data protection to ensure free data flows for all commercial sectors.

Trading relationship: a close, open and non-discriminatory trading relationship with the EU and other major markets which recognises the UK’s strengths in strategically important services across the financial, digital and communications sectors. Regulatory alignment between the UK and EU makes good economic sense in the telecoms/digital sectors, with an accent needed on a long-term approach to proportionate regulation encouraging innovation and network investment. Brexit also provides the opportunity for new trade deals as a template for future best practice such as with the USA.

R&D, Innovation and Standards: full reciprocal access to EU bids for R&D and related funding, e.g. Horizon 2020, for all universities and research bodies and companies, including participation in dialogues that set research and standards priorities. Enhanced Government/industry effort in global bodies dealing with standards, radio spectrum and internet technologies (e.g. ITU, ICANN, CEPT) should also be valuable.

Transition & implementation period: sufficient time to allow businesses and others greater certainty, and to adapt and plan for any new arrangements from and beyond March 2019.


Our briefing notes contain lots of information on a range of topics about BT and the communications industry.

BT views on the future UK trade policy - November 2017

BT digital trade policy - August 2017

BT position on EECCode - November 2016

BT views on EU Content Portability - February 2016

BT Position on the EU Telecoms Framework Review - January 2016

BT Delivering Britain’s Digital Future - November 2015

BT Innovation brochure - Sept 2015

BT views on the European Digital Single Market - Aug 2015


Communicate EU is our quarterly external newsletter. As always, we would be pleased to hear any feedback or if you would like further information on these or any other issues,our contact details can be found on the back page.

Communicate EU - a newsletter from BT- March 2017

Communicate EU newsletter Communicate EU - a newsletter from BT - November 2016 [2.6Mb]

Communicate EU newsletter Communicate EU - a newsletter from BT - October 2015 [2.1Mb]

Communicate EU newsletter Communicate EU - a newsletter from BT - June 2015 [2.6Mb]