Sunday

24th Oct 2021

EU debates adequacy of 10 MB 'holiday data'

  • The proposed 'basic roaming allowance' will allow you to send perhaps a dozen photos a day, if the picture's resolution is not too high. (Photo: Ed Yourdon)

Representatives of the EU's national governments and the European Parliament will continue negotiating on the future of roaming surcharges Tuesday (21 April), with the two opposing sides having to find a compromise between giving customers of telecommunication services a 'basic roaming allowance' and ending the practice altogether.

EU politicians have promised to end roaming surcharges since 2013, but national governments say telecommunication companies need a “transitional period”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

During that period, customers would be given a basic roaming allowance: on seven days in each calendar year they should be able to use their phone for the same price as in their home country.

The latest proposal from the governments, agreed last week, said that on each of those seven days, customers will be able to make five minutes of phone calls, receive five minutes of phone calls, send five text messages, and send and receive 10 megabytes of data.

The allotment will allow you to do basic things like calling home to say you've arrived safely, or search online for the address of your hotel.

The 10 megabytes of data will allow you to send some holiday photos to friends at home – if the resolution is not too high – but if you want to watch video, the allowance is likely to be gone shortly after the advertising has been shown.

Ending roaming surcharges altogether, like the European Commission and the European Parliament have promised they would do, is a lot trickier than it sounds.

"Roam like at home" could bring some practical complications that were not accurately addressed when the commission published its proposal, said a government source close to the negotiations.

“The proposal was based on almost no impact assessment,” the government source said, calling it a “purely political project”.

If telecommunication providers are forced to offer the same price abroad as in their home countries, that could lead to a higher domestic price.

“Of course operators are speaking with governments. They say: if it will be roam like at home, then sorry, the domestic prices will go up”, the contact said.

Travel behaviour varies greatly, both within countries, and between them.

Citizens from Luxembourg spend on average about 27 days a year abroad, while those from Greece and Bulgaria on average less than a day. In those last two countries, 63 percent of the citizens never travel abroad. The EU travelling abroad average is 5.7 days a year.

Additionally, with the "at home" prices varying across the EU, someone from a country with cheap mobile costs could end up travelling to a country where he or she is paying less than the locals.

'Lack of ambition'

One year ago this month, the EU parliament voted to end roaming surcharges by December 2015. The source noted that the vote was cast "shortly before the elections".

The governments' proposed allowance would be in place on 30 April 2016 – two months ahead of an earlier proposal, but still five months later than the parliament wants.

The EU commission has also been vocal about the countries' “lack of ambition” but is said to be cooperative behind the scenes.

After Tuesday's negotiations, during which a deal is not expected, there will be another round of talks on 5 May.

A 5 May deal would be a welcome achievement for the commission, as it is set to unveil its strategy for a digital single market the next day. If talks on roaming fail, it would cast doubt on the feasability of the commission's new plans.

EU countries to break promise on roaming surcharges

National governments are set to break a promise EU politicians have been making to citizens, by suggesting that roaming surcharges could continue beyond the end of 2015, and adding exceptions to the principle of network neutrality.

EU states want more Belarus sanctions

EU heads of state and government on Friday, at a summit in Brussels, demanded more sanctions against Belarus "as a matter of urgency" and want the European Commission to tweak rules governing borders to tackle "state-sponsored smuggling".

News in Brief

  1. Russia's anti-vax campaign backfired, EU says
  2. China angered as MEPs call for Taiwan talks
  3. Emissions from La Palma volcano reach Brussels
  4. Body of eighth victim of Belarus border-crisis found in river
  5. Report: Syrian bank fiddling currency to evade EU sanctions
  6. Nato adopts plan to counter new Russian threats
  7. Alleged killer of British MP 'felt affiliated' to IS
  8. Coronavirus: Belgium returns to 'red' zone

Analysis

Commissions's new migration pact still seeking 'landing zone'

Last October, the European Commission gave an optimistic outlook on the adoption of its migration and asylum pact. EU commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas said its pact on migration was lowering the landing gear - suggesting agreement was possible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. EU states want more Belarus sanctions
  2. Gas price spike exposes rift at EU summit
  3. Poland vows not to give into EU 'blackmail' at summit
  4. EU vows to uphold Paris climate ambition amid scientists' fears
  5. Commissions's new migration pact still seeking 'landing zone'
  6. Europe can't ignore Chinese encroachment in Ukraine
  7. Lithuania - where 'biodiversity funding' is cutting down trees
  8. Dutch lawyers take Frontex to EU court over pushbacks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us