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Radio spectrum policy programme

The EU’s radio spectrum policy programme aims to ensure the functioning of the internal market in various EU policy areas involving the use of radio spectrum and to ensure that the EU maximises its use of this finite resource in a coordinated way.


Decision No 243/2012/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2012 establishing a multiannual radio spectrum policy programme


The EU’s 5-year radio spectrum policy programme defines the strategic planning and harmonisation of the use of spectrum for areas of the EU’s internal market that use spectrum, such as electronic communications, research and space, transport, energy and audiovisual policies, as access to radio spectrum is essential for a vast range of activities from wireless communications and broadcasting and short-range devices, through to transport, public safety and space applications.

The objectives of the radio spectrum policy programme are to:

  • make sufficient spectrum available to satisfy growing needs, in particular 1200 MHz for wireless communications;
  • maximise flexibility in the use of spectrum;
  • enhance the efficient use of spectrum;
  • promote competition between electronic communications services;
  • harmonise the internal market and develop transnational services;
  • avoid interference and disturbances;
  • protect human health.

Member States are required to:

  • adopt by 1 January 2013 authorisation and allocation measures appropriate for the development of broadband services;
  • foster the collective use of spectrum as well as shared use of spectrum;
  • cooperate to develop harmonised standards for radio equipment and terminals;
  • adopt selection conditions and procedures which promote investment and efficient use of spectrum.

The European Commission is developing best practices on authorisation conditions and procedures for spectrum bands to avoid over-fragmentation of the internal market.

In order to ensure fair competition, Member States may adopt measures such as:

  • limiting the amount of spectrum for which rights of use are granted to any economic operator;
  • reserving spectrum for new entrants;
  • limiting the granting of new rights of use in certain bands in order to prevent operators from accumulating too much spectrum and harming competition;
  • prohibiting transfers of spectrum usage rights;
  • amending the existing rights of certain operators in cases of excessive accumulation, in accordance with Article 14 of Directive 2002/20/EC.

Member States must allocate a sufficient portion of spectrum for all EU citizens to have access to broadband by 2020.

By 1 January 2013, Member States had to authorise the use of harmonised bands in order to allow consumers easy access to wireless broadband services including the 800 MHz band (the digital dividend). They should also allow trading of spectrum usage rights in these harmonised bands.

The Commission, with Member States, is creating an inventory of existing spectrum use and of future needs for spectrum from 400 MHz to 6 GHz.

The EU participates in international negotiations relating to spectrum matters, in accordance with the rules of the Treaty, to defend its interests. In international negotiations, Member States must also ensure that the spectrum required for the development of EU policies is available. The EU may assist Member States in resolving spectrum coordination issues with non-EU countries.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision No 243/2012/EU


1.7.2015, unless otherwise specified

OJ L 81 of 21.3.2012

Last updated: 14.02.2014