The European Commission has delayed the publication of a plan to reform the continent’s regulatory structure. The report, initially expected September 26, has stalled as officials battle over direction and content.
The Commission has faced fierce criticism for its feeble regulatory oversight. It fails to punish companies operating in grey markets, sports a protectionist bias, and is burdened by a patchy, inconsistent regulatory framework, according to lobbyists and operators.
The industry is calling for a unified approach to legislation and regulation. Operators and trade groups like the Remote Gambling Association and the European Gaming and Betting Association have filed more than 30 formal complaints in the European Court of Justice. Regulation is not compliant with EU law, they argue.
The EGBA, which represents Europe’s online gaming and betting operators, has accused the Commission of “failing in its role as guardian of the treaties”. According to promises made in June, European regulators will reopen investigations into countries whose legislation is not in line with EU law.
While the report is eagerly anticipated, Michel Barnier, the Internal Market and Services Commissioner, has been hesitant to hear legislative proposals. Restrictive, state-regulated markets are many of the largest and most influential in Europe. As a result, Barnier faces strong political opposition from national governments.
The report, which won’t be the draft directive everyone wanted, is now expected in October. While it will open the dialogue for more cohesive regulation, don’t expect any kind of legislative reform—unified or not—until 2015 at the earliest.