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The European Commission has moved a step closer to the formation of a single telecoms market for the European Union (EU).

An official proposal has been published, promising stricter guidelines to safeguard net neutrality, measures to improve broadband coverage and cheaper mobile roaming.

Among the proposed changes is harmonisation of the way broadband providers rent access to networks operated by their rivals - such as BT's infrastructure in the UK.

The Commission believes the reforms can help the telecoms sector make a greater contribution to Europe's digital economy.

José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the Commission, said the institution will formally adopt a proposal that "gives a push towards a single market for telecoms".

"Citizens know that Europe has dramatically brought down their costs for roaming," he stated.

"Our proposal will strengthen guarantees and lower prices for consumers, and present new opportunities for companies."

EC Vice-President Neelie Kroes said the planned changes are "great news" for the future of broadband and mobile services in Europe.

She commented that the Commission has "said no to roaming premiums, yes to net neutrality, yes to investment, and yes to new jobs".

"Fixing the telecoms sector is no longer about this one sector, but about supporting the sustainable development of all sectors," Ms Kroes claimed.

In terms of ensuring open access to the internet, the Commission has proposed banning the blocking and throttling of online content.

This would mean users will have access to "the full and open internet" irrespective of how much their broadband deal costs, or what its speed capabilities are.

The Commission said companies will still be able to provide "specialised services" with assured quality - such as IPTV and video on-demand.

However, these must not interfere with the download and upload speeds offered to other customers.

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