In 2018 the New General Law for Sustainable Forest Development entered into force, introducing new legal definitions with regard to the forestry regulatory framework. In April 2020 a seemingly small yet quite relevant amendment to the law was published in the Federal Official Gazette, making various adjustments to the legal definitions set out in Article 7 of the law.
Given the current situation brought about by COVID-19 and the subsequent suspension of private and governmental activities, the National Waters Commission (CONAGUA) has been reconsidering its online procedures system, which was initially published in the Federal Official Gazette on 1 October 2018 but was not implemented until late 2019. CONAGUA's ultimate goal in this respect is the complete substitution of traditional in-person-initiated procedures with their digital counterparts.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Ecology and Climate Chance Institute are continuing to help Mexico achieve its climate-change-related air emissions goals through data analysis, policy management and the implementation of the emissions trading system pilot programme. As such, now is an ideal time for actors in industry and service sectors to evaluate their air emissions obligations. Further, additional obligations may apply to certain facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In October 2019 the General Circular Economy Law initiative was presented to the Senate for discussion and approval. The initiative was prepared in response to Mexico's increasing waste generation and aims to coordinate the attempts of the municipal, state and federal authorities to address this problem. As such, the initiative proposes granting several new powers to each level of government in order to foster the creation of a circular economy in Mexico.
In December 2019 the Federal Telecommunications Institute issued draft rules for public consultation to further regulate net neutrality in Mexico. Further discussions are anticipated following the consultation period and the definitive rules are expected to be published in mid-2020. Nonetheless, the publication of draft rules to regulate net neutrality is a positive step which has long been awaited by both industry players and non-governmental organisations.
The preliminary bases for Mexico's emissions trading system (ETS) pilot programme were recently published in the Federal Official Gazette. The ETS is one strategy adopted by Mexico to meet its goals under the Paris Agreement. The pilot programme will determine whether the ETS is a viable scheme for reducing Mexico's greenhouse gas emissions. Companies should follow the results closely, as these will be paramount in determining the characteristics of the operational phase.
A new state-owned company has been established to provide free internet services to all citizens in Mexico. The company aims to provide telecoms services without charge and guarantee the right of access to information technologies and communication (including internet and broadband), particularly to people without access to such services in Mexico.
The production of single-use plastics has increased exponentially in recent decades and in Mexico the volume of single-use plastic waste now exceeds the country's recycling capabilities. In response to growing concern over the effects that plastic waste may have on the environment, a series of legislative changes have recently been implemented. Companies should keep track of any waste-related initiatives introduced at the state and federal levels and prepare for upcoming changes to their obligations.
The administration recently issued its National Development Plan 2019-2024, which – despite the previous administration's plans – does not mention cybersecurity. Although there are still hopes that cybersecurity will be addressed in the soon-to-be-released Communications and Transports Sectorial Programme 2019-2024, it appears that the present administration has no intention of implementing a cybersecurity strategy.
The National Agency for Industrial Safety and the Protection of the Environment in the Hydrocarbons Sector recently published NOM-001-ASEA-2019 (NOM-001) in the Federal Official Gazette. NOM-001's main aims are to establish criteria to classify the special types of waste produced in the hydrocarbons sector and establish which of these must be subject to a management plan, as well as determine the contents of special management and hazardous waste management plans.
The Federal Electricity Commission recently published draft terms of reference for a new tender procedure in which 50,000km of two strands of dark fibre will be allocated for the provision of free internet services to all citizens under the so-called 'Internet for All' project. Specialist opinions on the project's feasibility have been mixed, and the president has stated that if no winner is published in the near future, he will create a government agency to provide internet services throughout the country.
The Supreme Court of Justice recently declared that an article of the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law – which provided that the minimum fine for any violation of the law not otherwise expressly penalised in another law was 1% of the offender's annual income – to be unconstitutional. This declaration may signal that the court intends to participate more regularly in shaping Mexico's legal framework in order to rectify deficiencies created by Congress.
In view of recent policy changes relating to hydrocarbons and gasoline distribution via pipelines, liability for the remediation of soil and water contamination derived from hydrocarbon spills and leaks at storage terminals and pipelines has become a hot topic. These policy changes have largely been aimed at tackling criminal activities that have contributed to soil and water contamination, such as fuel and hydrocarbon theft.
One of the first actions that the new federal government administration undertook after taking office in December 2018 was to prepare the expenses budget in accordance with the new president's austerity principles. After heated discussions, the budget was finally approved on 24 December 2018. Shortly after, the Federal Telecommunications Institute filed a constitutional challenge in which it claimed that the budget will affect its ability to perform its constitutional regulatory functions.
Mexico recently became the first country to liberate the 600MHz band after the Federal Telecommunications Institute approved the relocation of the last two channels that transmitted therein in order to free it up for 5G broadband services. This transition will enable Mexico to make the band available to the market through a bidding process and exploit international mobile telecoms applications for 5G mobile broadband services.
In 2017 the Federal Telecommunications Institute published the General Guidelines for the Accessibility of Broadcast Television Services, which will take effect in December 2018. The guidelines establish requirements regarding the inclusion of Mexican sign language or hidden subtitles in certain programmes, which apply to concessionaires that use a signal to commercially transmit broadcast TV to more than 50% of the Mexican territory and federal public entities that are concessionaires of public broadcast TV.
President Elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has already published his environmental agenda, which sets out the objectives to be met and the strategies to be implemented during his six-year term. Under the agenda, a number of regulatory changes regarding air emissions, environmental impact assessments and coastal and marine zones will be introduced. In addition, Mexico will keep working towards its goals under the Paris Agreement and its administrative offices will undergo significant changes.
The Ministry of the Interior recently issued the Guidelines for the Audiovisual Content Classification of Broadcasting Transmissions and Pay Television and Audio Services. The 2015 guidelines dramatically increased the hours during which a programme or ad can be broadcast depending on its rating, leading to legal disputes to protect child audiences. While the 2018 guidelines maintain the same broadcast times as the 2015 guidelines, they have increased the duration of the parental warning.
In recent years, Mexico has seen the significant deterioration of its forest resources, making it one of the 10 worst countries in terms of deforestation. To combat this issue, the New General Law for Sustainable Forest Development was recently published in the Federal Official Gazette. The law is an attempt to focus Mexico's forestry regulation on better management of resources, while also safeguarding human rights and social involvement.
Telecomunicaciones de México recently issued a call inviting applicants to compete in the bidding for the Red Troncal project (ie, the National Backbone Network), which has been in the works since the 2013 constitutional telecoms reform. The winning party will enter into a public-private partnership for the design, financing, installation, deployment, operation, strengthening, maintenance and development of the network and the provision of wholesale telecoms services.