AGCOM and CMT consultations

Consultations have been widely promoted internationally. As early as 1997, the OECD called for the participation of stakeholders in the policy process.3 The European Commission, in its White Paper on European Governance (2001), recommended the involvement in decision-making not only of well-established stakeholders,4 but of civil society actors as well. IRAs sometimes adopt formal procedures to regulate stakeholder participation in their regulatory activities. These procedures generally include measures that are subject to consultation; consultation procedures; methods of publicizing acts to be consulted; observations of stakeholders; and motivations of the authority. AGCOM adopted a Council Regulation in 2003,5 whereas CMT has not yet adopted any specific regulation.6 The adoption of formal procedures governing stakeholder participation in the IRA regulatory process is one of the aspects that encourage the institutionalization of consultation (Raiola 2010).

Notice and Comment (NC) is the most widely used consultation technique. In practice, stakeholders are asked to give an opinion or comment on a draft of an act published on the IRA website. The draft sometimes is accompanied by disclosure documents, preceded by information concerning consulting modes (opening times, how to send comments, and so on) The process includes two additional phases: the publication of comments and the publication of the reasoning behind the final choices adopted by the authority. The majority of AGCOM and CMT public consultations are based either on NC or on illustrative documents. CMT chiefly employs the instrument of illustrative documents, describing the authority's regulatory intentions more generically. These two techniques of consultation differ: NC is adopted over several stages, from the beginning of the rule-making process to the end, while illustrative comment is used only at the first, advisory stage.

We assess the degree of openness of the rule-making process to stakeholders by adopting five indicators previously tested in the context of Italian IRAs (Raiola 2012): restrictions on recipients; opening times; the length (number of pages) of the main document submitted for consultation; publication of participant observations; publication of the authority's reasoning. The first indicator tells us whether the consultation is effectively open. Indeed, authorities can conduct consultations electronically, addressing certain specific stakeholders or the group as a whole. The second indicator is important for understanding whether procedures allow the stakeholders sufficient time to participate. The third indicator refers to the number of pages of the documents submitted for consultation. We can assume that the longer the document, the less user-friendly it is, and thus less well-established stakeholders may be discouraged from participating. The fourth indicator refers to the publication of the participants' comments and enables us to determine how transparent the consultation process is. Too frequently, comments are not posted at all, not even anonymously or in summarized form. The fifth indicator determines the degree of visibility of the acceptance or rejection of stakeholders' proposals and of the authority's justifications. Finally, we will attempt to determine whether the consultation process leads to a specific output, in other words, whether the authority approves a formal regulatory act following the consultation process.

The participatory process

AGCOM consultations, the majority of which are on the telephony sector and on the regulation of the Universal Service Obligation (USO), are carried out by three specialized internal bodies: the Council, the Commission for Networks and Infrastructure (CIR) and the Commission for Services and Products (CSP). CMT does not indicate any competent internal office for consultations, and the Council decides finally whether to open a public consultation.7 Cases in which consultation is restricted by both AGCOM and CMT are rare (Table 7.2); nevertheless, the degree of procedural openness is higher for AGCOM than for CMT.

Considering the other indicators (for example, opening times and length of documents), it becomes clear that AGCOM tends to open

Table 7.2 ACCOM and CMT consultations 2005-2011. Absolute and percentage values

Year

Number of Consultations

Restrictions

Mean of Opening Times

Mean of Number of Pages

Publication

of

Comments

Publication of Reasoning

Consultation with draft resolution

Consultation

without

draft

resolution

Decisions

Agcom

Cmt

Agcom

Cmt

Agcom

Cmt

Agcom

Cmt

Agcom

Cmt

Agcom

Cmt

Agcom

Cmt

Agcom

Cmt

Agcom

Cmt

2005

7

13

_

_

32

30

55

43

5

7

5

_

5

_

2

9

5

5

2006

13

6

-

1

34

29

40

28

5

2

4

-

10

-

3

6

4

2

2007

10

7

1

2

42

28

32

36

4

1

2

-

6

-

4

7

4

2

2008

13

2

-

-

45

30

28

48

5

-

4

-

11

-

2

2

4

1

2009

19

11

-

1

36

28

45

40

5

9

5

7

14

-

4

11

8

9

2010

30

7

-

-

39

27

34

90

11

4

10

2

24

-

6

7

14

3

2011

28

7

2

-

39

29

30

35

6

2

5

1

18

-

9

7

6

2

Tot.

120

53

3

4

39

27

35

42

41

25

35

10

88

-

30

49

45

24

%<[1]>

-

-

2

7

-

-

-

-

34

47

29

19

73

-

25

92

37

45

its participatory process to a greater degree than does CMT. Indeed, as shown by data in Table 7.2, in comparison with CMT, AGCOM grants more time for consultation and tends to submit shorter documents to stakeholders.

  • [1] All percentage values refer to the total number of AGCOM and CMT consultations.
 
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