Constitutionality and legality of telecoms forced access mechanisms : a comparative study of the EU and Taiwan
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Telecoms industry is a highly specialised industry and there is a general consensus that it requires a specially designed regulatory system. Besides the many technology-oriented regulations, this regulatory system not only integrates many economic theories and concepts taken from competition law, but also features several measures designed ad hoc to deal with the character of the industry, such as a natural monopoly, bottlenecks and a public service. A major category of these regulatory measures is forced access mechanisms. "Forced access" in this thesis refers to the forcing open of certain property – mostly telecoms networks and relevant facilities – to be accessed by others, especially other competitors in the market. While these mechanisms do indeed promote competition in the telecoms market and benefit the public, they also limit the fundamental rights of telecoms companies – mostly incumbents – as legal persons, especially concerning their property rights and freedom to conduct a business, and it does not need emphasising further that the protection of fundamental rights is a general principle in the European Union and a constitutional value in modern democratic states. This thesis aims to take three distinct telecoms forced access mechanisms (interconnection, local loop unbundling and separation), with different regulatory intensities, as examples to discuss the possible fundamental rights derogation issues of two targeted jurisdictions – the European Union and Taiwan. There are some substantial reasons for this comparative study. On the one hand, many of the regulatory concepts of the telecoms regulatory framework in the European Union, together with those in the United States, have been adopted by Taiwan; on the other hand, the protection of fundamental rights in the European Union is inspired by the constitutional traditions common to Member States, and the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz) plays an important role, while the Taiwanese Constitution and the constitutionality reviews system derive from Germany (continental law) and the United States (common law). The reasoning of Taiwanese constitutional review does not therefore just reflect the fundamental rights protection system but also introduces the constitutionality review system of the United States as a reference. This thesis starts with an introduction to telecoms forced access mechanisms in the European Union and Taiwan, with a special focus on three selected forced access mechanisms. Then, fundamental rights protection system under the two jurisdictions will be discussed, followed by an in-depth discussion of the concepts of property rights and freedom to conduct a business. This thesis goes on to analyse how to appraise the three telecoms forced access mechanisms in relation to the fundamental rights protection system and to discuss the reasonableness of such an analysis. The final part of the thesis will, by reviewing the legal frameworks of the two jurisdictions, offer answers to the questions raised in the analysis.