Sunday

22nd May 2022

New roaming charges could be in place for the summer holiday

  • Industry had lobbied for a higher cap on charges (Photo: EUobserver)

EU citizens going on holiday within the bloc this summer could already benefit from lower roaming charges for mobile phones, according to the European Commission.

Following a vote in the European Parliament's industry committee in favour of a law regulating roaming fees, a commission spokesperson said it could be possible to secure the new measures "as early as July," adding it was "very good news for European consumers."

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MEPs in the European Parliament's industry committee on Thursday (12 April) adopted by an overwhelming majority – 45 in favour, three against and one abstention - a report proposing to reduce roaming charges to a maximum of €0.40 a minute for outgoing calls, and €0.15 for incoming calls, plus value-added tax, when using the phone abroad across the union.

Under the proposal, charges will apply automatically without consumers having to change contracts and without any fees – something the commission referred to as the "best part" of the MEPs' agreement as it had proved a very controversial element of the legislation.

"The result of this vote is a very sound basis for our negotiations with the [EU member states], said Austrian centre-right MEP Paul Ruebig - who wrote the parliament report.

Mr Ruebig also said he was confident of a successful wrap-up before the summer break.

The full 785 MEPs will vote on the report at their plenary meeting on 10-12 May while EU telecoms ministers will discuss the proposed law when they meet on 7 June.

If the ministers adopt the law – France and the UK have expressed reservations in the past on the issue - it will go into effect once it is published in the EU's official journal, something that could be done in a matter of weeks.

Champagne

EU information society commissioner Viviane Reding – responsible for the law and who opened the battle against the telecoms operator in 2006 after years of voluntary measures failed to see prices drop – reportedly opened a bottle of champagne on hearing the news.

The European consumers organisation, BEUC, welcomed the result but called on MEPs to ask for more during next month's plenary vote.

"The price caps are still too high and should be readjusted to reflect the real costs. That is what European consumers are expecting from the Parliament in the plenary vote," said the organisation's economic officer Levi Nietvelt.

Thursday's vote represents a blow for the industry which had wanted a higher cap of €0.65 to make a call and €0.35 to receive one.

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