EU mobile roaming charges to end in 2017

The European council, parliament and commission have reached a deal to abolish mobile roaming charges after a 13-hour session of talks.

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

30 Jun 2015

Over a year after former European digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes announced plans to end mobile roaming charges, parliament, council and commission have finally been able to come to an agreement.

As of 15 June 2017, those travelling within the EU will be able to use their mobile internet abroad at no extra charge.

As a first step, roaming charges will be capped. Starting from April next year, extra fees will be limited to €0.05 per minute for phone calls, €0.02 per SMS sent and €0.05 per MB of data compared to domestic prices.


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The deal also includes provisions for net neutrality and open internet, meaning that users will be able to access content without being unfairly blocked or slowed down, and service providers will no longer be allowed to charge extra fees for better internet speed.

European commission vice-president for the digital single market Andrus Ansip said, "we still have a lot of work ahead of us to create a digital single market. Our plans to make it happen were fully endorsed by heads of state and government last week, and we should move faster than ever on this".

European digital economy and society commissioner Günther Oettinger added that the new agreements were "essential for consumers and businesses in today's European digital economy and society. We will build on these important foundations in our forthcoming review of the EU's telecoms legislation".

MEPs were quick to voice their satisfaction, with parliament's rapporteur on the European single market for electronic communications Pilar del Castillo Vera underlining that, "this agreement will be to the benefit of all European citizens in a very visible way by making mobile communication across the EU cheaper".

The European People's Party deputy added that this new deal was proof that "the EU can come forward with palpable solutions to problems - this is a subjective advantage but politically speaking it's very significant. […] We can achieve far more together".

Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats vice-chair Kathleen Van Brempt commented, "we wish that the process had been faster, but at least now we have a date in the near future".

European Conservatives and Reformists group deputy Vicky Ford, chair of parliament's internal market and consumer protection committee, noted that, "this is a sensible timescale that gives mobile operators the time to sort out the marketplace in preparation for the abolition of roaming fees."

And Liberal group chair Guy Verhofstadt was enthusiastic, saying, "the great roaming rip off is finally coming to an end."

But not everyone was pleased with the new agreement, with Greens/European Free Alliance group shadow rapporteur Michel Reimon warning, "the compromise is full of major loopholes."

"Suppliers will be entitled to offset losses by introducing other fees if they secure their domestic prices and the burden of proof that such supplementary charges are not necessary will lie with the national regulatory authorities".

The Austrian MEP added, "it's highly questionable as to whether calling and surfing will be any cheaper in 2017".

 

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