The European Parliament has recently cast its final vote to end roaming charges by June 2017. The European Commission applauds this positive voting result since Europeans will finally be able to enjoy the same prices which they already pay in their home state when travelling to other EU Member States. In this respect, this voting result calls for carriers within the European Union to put an end to charging high roaming fees on mobile data, calls and text messages.
Thus, the main intention behind this ban is to further protect consumers from the automatic imposition of charges by mobile carriers. Indeed, there have been a number of instances where consumers have incurred a staggering amount of bills after downloading data to their mobile devices whilst roaming outside their home state.
As a result, the new agreement shall be split up and implemented in two stages. In fact, before a total ban is brought into force, a provisional capping on charges will commence on the 30th of April of next year. Furthermore, in order to avoid any misunderstandings, operators will be able to charge not more than:
- €0.05 extra per minute for calls
- €0.02 extra per SMS sent
- €0.05 extra per megabyte of data used
The Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip has praised the outcome of this vote since it not only provides monetary benefits for mobile users but it continues to solidify the harmonization process of the Digital Single Market. Moreover, the Commission intends to continue working on other areas such as the revamping of EU telecom rules. Yet again, the European Commission would need to bring on board the European Parliament and the 28 Member States in order to successfully enhance the Digital Single Market.
Nevertheless, although there is a wide consensus on the prohibition of roaming charges, a number of MEPs do not share the same stance. In fact, MEP Roger Helmer held that although the charges are going to be done away with, this initiative will not completely bar carriers from considering other profit-making schemes.
This vote has been preceded by two years of intensive negotiations and lobbying by the European Parliament and each and every Member State. The main bone of contention for the Member States revolves around the balancing act between their local carriers and consumers.