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Kroes will propose legislation for a common EU telecoms market (Photo: EU)

Europe needs an integrated telecommunications market as machine-to-machine connectivity takes on growing importance, EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes said Thursday.

Kroes, who is in charge of Europe's digital agenda, said in a speech to the 11th European Business Summit in Brussels that the absence of a Europe-wide telecoms market is a major obstacle in the way of new IT and communications services.

"The European telecoms market is actually just 27 distinct national markets," Kroes said, adding that this makes it hard for telecommunications operators to achieve the size and scale needed "to invest, innovate and compete globally." It also denies people and industry access to a growing range of IT products and services that are essential in a connected world.

"Today many businesses find roaming charges a costly irritant," Kroes said, referring to the higher rates charged by mobile operators for calls made and received in another EU member country. "That will be yet worse in a world of machine to machine communications, where everything is connected, from your car to your wallet."

The EU commissioner said she will soon present proposals for a single telecoms market, which, she added, is a priority for the rest of her mandate. The reason: "Because we need companies to smash barriers, think European, and compete globally: even against the American giants."