Friday

23rd Oct 2020

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.

News in Brief

  1. Commission to press Croatia on migrant 'abuse' at border
  2. Belarus opposition awarded 2020 Sakharov Prize
  3. Belgium's foreign minister in intensive care for Covid-19
  4. MEPs restrict CAP funding for bullfighting
  5. Coronavirus: Liège is 'the Lombardy of the second wave'
  6. UK to keep out EU nationals with criminal past
  7. Report: EU to restrict travel from Canada, Tunisia, Georgia
  8. Pope Francis supports same-sex civil unions

Opinion

All eyes on EU court for decision on religious slaughter

The European Court of Justice is currently facing a major question: can religious freedom coexist with animal welfare? The decision of whether religious slaughter can continue is expected in a matter of weeks.

Investigation

EU money used by neo-Nazi to promote Holocaust denial

A prominent Holocaust-denier has made the cover of an EU-funded newsletter, which was published by an avowed German neo-Nazi with a lengthy criminal record. The lack of clear labelling of the MEP behind it violates European Parliament rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nato and EU silent on Turkey, despite Armenia's appeal
  2. EU tells UK to decide on Brexit as deal 'within reach'
  3. EU farming deal attacked by Green groups
  4. France vows tough retaliation for teacher's murder
  5. All eyes on EU court for decision on religious slaughter
  6. 'Big majority' of citizens want EU funds linked to rule of law
  7. EU declares war on Malta and Cyprus passport sales
  8. EU Commission's Libya stance undercut by internal report

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us