• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Anger as EU keeps mobile roaming fees

Paul O'Mahony · 5 Mar 2015, 13:07

Published: 05 Mar 2015 13:07 GMT+01:00

"The Council is really disappointing 550 million EU citizens and is consciously holding back the development of the Digital Single Market," said Fredrick Federley, a Swedish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) who is coordinator for the Liberal ALDE group on the industry committee.

"This is down to pressure from the mobile operators, who have had these charges as a milking cow for some time," he told The Local. 

Guillermo Beltrà, head of the legal and economic division at the European Consumer Organisation, BEUC, was also frustrated.

“We are disappointed by the national governments’ lack of ambition to bring down once and for all one of the most important barriers to Europe’s Digital Single Market,” he said in a statement released to The Local. 

The group said governments had lacked the political will to take on telecom companies on their citizens’ behalf. 

“It is no secret that the big telecom industry has done their utmost to delay the abolition of roaming charges,” said Beltrà. 

“The end of roaming has been in the making for a very long time, and this is something that telecoms have known and should be ready for. In fact, they are also to benefit from the new consumer demand that will emerge once roaming is abolished.”

The European Council, which represents the EU’s 28 member states, agreed this week that mobile phone users would be given a roaming allowance that allows cell phone use in other EU countries at domestic rates up to an as yet unspecified limit. Telecom companies would be allowed to levy roaming charges for any use beyond this limit, though at a lower rate than before. 

“We now expect the European Parliament to take a strong stance in the negotiations with the ministers for a final deal that will hopefully make roaming fees a thing of the past,” said Guillermo Beltrà. 

The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly last year to end roaming costs by the end of this year. 

Gunnar Hökmark, a Swedish MEP, has long argued for roaming fees to be scrapped. He expects tough negotiations with national governments. 

“Some member states are defending national operators. Without naming any countries, some operators in the south are happy to get higher prices from users coming from the north,” he told The Local. 

He did however express some understanding for the delay. The creation of a pan-European network for telecom operators would ease the process of doing away with roaming fees, he said. 

Story continues below…

As things stand, domestic carriers pay their counterparts in other countries wholesale charges for foreign mobile use by their customers. 

Abolishing roaming charges without first fixing this glitch in the system would risk resulting in higher domestic charges in many countries, which is something operators and national governments want to avoid, said Hökmark. 

“The most productive outcome of the negotiations would be the creation of a European operator network" to review the system of wholesale charges.  

Roaming fees for calls and data have dropped sharply in recent years after the European Commission took steps to eradicate the sort of “bill shocks” that often greeted travellers returning home from other EU countries.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

Today's headlines
Saudi princess 'told guard to kill Paris decorator'
Photo: Eurovizion/Flickr

"You have to kill this dog, he doesn't deserve to live," the princess allegedly said.

Paying for sex in France: Has the new law been effective?

Around 40 sex buyers are caught each month across the whole of France. Does that sound like much?

Only in France: 'Drive slowly - grape juice on the roads'
Photo: Rexness/Flickr

You know you're in France when...

France gives lift off to tough new drone laws
Photo: AFP

Time to crack down on drones, say French lawmakers.

Bienvenue en France: France cuts red tape for UK firms
Photo: AFP

France is ready to roll out the red carpet for UK firms quitting Britain because of Brexit fears.

VIDEO: Is life on a French café terrace really this bad?
Photo: Canal Plus

Bird poo, bums and butts: Is life on les terraces really as bad as this?

'Five terror plots thwarted' on Riviera since Nice attack
A police boat patrols the waters off the beach in Nice during the summer. Photo: AFP

Authorities in Nice say five potentially deadly terror plots on the French Riviera have been foiled since the Bastille Day truck attack in the resort.

IN PICTURES
French firefighters calendar to provoke global palpitations
Photo: Fred Goudon

Warning: Some readers may suffer palpitations, sweats or other side-effects when reading this story.

Why Paris beach festival could be sand-free in future
Photo: AFP

Is a beach with no sand still a beach?

Lost without translation: The struggles of Calais migrants
Communication problems in the Calais jungle camp. Photo: AFP

So many languages are spoken in the Calais jungle migrant camp but French is rarely heard.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Culture
The crazy French writing phrases you can't get your head around
Features
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
'Stop telling immigrants to be French and help it happen'
Society
Take the test: How far have you assimilated into French culture?
Lifestyle
Eleven things you should know before moving to Paris
National
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
National
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Features
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
Travel
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
Culture
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
Features
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
National
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Education
Grenoble named France's best city to be a student
Society
New Metro map reveals cheapest pints of beer in Paris
Business & Money
How reliant is the French economy on Paris?
Society
Here's why Parisians want to move to Bordeaux
And the 'best place to spend a weekend in Europe' is… Lyon
Analysis & Opinion
'Muslims in France must be considered ordinary citizens'
Armed guards to ride French trains from October
National
France among Europe's priciest for train travel
2,731
jobs available