Following a long liberalization process within the telecommunications sector, the Portuguese telecommunications regulator (the Instituto de Comunicações de Portugal or ICP, now known as ICP - Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações, or ICP-ANACOM) has now been restructured. This restructuring was undertaken pursuant to Decree-Law 309/01 of December 7 2001, which came into force on January 7 2002. The decree-law approved ICP-ANACOM's new articles of association and introduced relevant changes with regards to its structure and operations.

The ICP was created back in 1981. It was formally appointed as the national telecommunications regulatory authority further to the enactment of Law 91/97 of August 1 1997, and as the national postal regulatory authority further to the publication of Law 102/99 of July 26 1999.

Its legal capacity and scope of activity were regulated by various pieces of legislation, which made comprehensive analysis of these matters difficult and time-consuming. Decree-Law 309/2001 was thus essentially aimed at gathering the relevant provisions contained in this legislation into one sole document, while at the same time strengthening ICP-ANACOM's supervisory and regulatory powers, establishing its politically independent status and setting out some new functioning rules.

The board of directors is now composed of a president and two or four members, appointed by the Council of Ministers for a non-renewable period of five years. The appointment of the board members is subject to strict restrictions.

ICP-ANACOM also has other new responsibilities under this decree-law which suggest that the national legislator intended to give ICP-ANACOM the capabilities to respond efficiently to the problems and challenges that the telecommunications sector faces, providing it with the necessary powers to supervise this sector and to perform its functions with more independence than before.

For further information on this topic please contact Margarida Couto at Vieira de Almeida & Associados by telephone (+351 21 311 3400) or by fax (+351 21 354 89 39) or by email ([email protected]).