Answer given by Executive Vice-President Vestager on behalf of the European Commission
The Commission recognises potential benefits from network sharing agreements arising from cost reductions or quality improvements.
Today, telecommunications network operators often cooperate in several Member States to increase the cost-effectiveness of their network roll-out. If not well designed, however, network sharing agreements can dampen competition between operators and ultimately affect parameters of competition such as the quality of service provided, the level of its differentiation and/or prices for consumers.
The Commission’s role is to ensure that competition remains effective, spurring investment and delivering high quality services to European citizens.
The Commission has considered the need for guidance on mobile network sharing agreements within the Guidelines on the applicability of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to horizontal cooperation agreements (‘Horizontal Guidelines’), currently under review.
As in any other sector, mobile telecom operators will continue to need to self-assess the compliance of their network sharing agreements within the principles set out in the guidance. This is in line with the Commission’s approach to cooperation agreements.
The effects of network sharing agreements on competition vary depending on a variety of factors such as the characteristics of the agreements and of the markets in question.
While the competitive assessment under Article 101 of the TFEU must always be conducted on a case-by-case basis, broad principles can be given as guidance to conduct such assessment.
The aforementioned principles and their wording are now subject of a public consultation on the Horizontal Guidelines which takes place from 1 March to 26 April 2022.
-  https://ec.europa.eu/competition-policy/public-consultations/2022-hbers_en