Last week, the European Parliament’s ITRE committee voted for lowering roaming costs within the EU. This marked a big success and step forward for our campaign. The Parliament’s vote followed a proposal of the European Commission from last July but demands even lower price caps for roaming:
- no more than 15 ct/min to make calls and 5 ct/min to receive calls by 2014,
- no more than 5 ct for sending SMS,
- no more than 50 ct/MB for internet access from 2012,
- no more than 20 ct/MB for internet access from 2014,
- easier access for alternative operators to offer cheaper roaming services.
If accepted by other EU institutions, this would mean roaming prices that are less than half of what they are at the moment. Even though we called for even lower prices similar to domestic prices, those amendments are a major improvement over the original proposals from the European Commission and have only been possible due to the positive influence of our campaign and the efforts of other pro-consumer groups. In the coming weeks, we will now have to fight to ensure that the second EU lawmaker, the Council of Ministers, will not bow to big operator interests and water down the proposals.
Reactions by MEPs who support us:
- “The charges for calls and downloading data abroad in the draft regulation are very similar to domestic charges. In addition, the document provides for the rates for calls, text messages and downloading data to be halved by the 1st July 2014”, said Roza Thun MEP for the EPP.
- “Until now, mobile phone users had to buy their roaming tariffs in a bundle with domestic tariffs. As we will now give consumers the ability to choose a different operator when abroad, operators will have to work harder to make good offers”, Paul Rübig, MEP for the EPP stated. “We have to put an end to tariffs that are more than 1000 times as costly in the EU as domestically.”
- “This is a step in the right direction, but it is not as low as I had thought was reasonable”, said Christian Engström, MEP for the Pirate Party. “A price ceiling at the consumer level of 200 to 300 per gigabyte would have been more reasonable. Then the price of data roaming landed near what mobile Internet costs within the country.”
- “In a European Union with a single market there shouldn’t be any difference in calling from one EU member state to another. Whether you are calling from Amsterdam, Lisbon, Berlin or Bucharest; the cost should be the same”, Judith Merkies MEP of the S&D stated.
Growing support for fair roaming:
Over the last weeks, support for our campaign has steadily grown as more and more people and organisations joined our efforts. We now bring together a network of 17 organisations representing more than 150000 people, 14 members of the European Parliament, and thousands of individuals. We have been present in many conferences, in constant contact with key stakeholders and have been mentioned in the media all over the world.
And just last week, we welcomed two new groups: independent blogger Protesilaos Stavrou, the federalist networking and campaign organisation OneEurope and the civil society network European Partnerships decided to join our efforts.