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Scrapping roaming charges in the EU: ”fair use policy” at the heart of the agreement

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Scrapping roaming charges in the EU: ”fair use policy” at the heart of the agreement

In a joint statement published on 12nd December, the Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Commissioner Gunther Oettinger announced that Member States representatives have finally allowed the Commission to adopt a legislative proposal on a fair use policy. The European institutions will then go ahead and abolish roaming charges by June 2017.

The agreement on fair use represents a balance between consumers’ and telecommunications providers’ interests. Indeed, the initial wish to adopt the rule “roam like home”, abolishing all roaming costs and favouring European consumers when travelling abroad, would have had a negative impact on the single market. Consumers would have been allowed to choose a phone number in those countries presenting cheaper deals, causing distortions in the common market.

After a successful lobbying activity of service providers, the Commission later decided to introduce safeguard mechanisms for operators against potential abuses.

The fair use rule represents such mechanism. It will be based on the principle of residence or permanent links to the EU country of the customer. Then, the “roam like home” principle under which customers pay domestic prices, irrespective of where they are traveling in the EU, will apply just for 90 days per year and 30 consecutive days. After this period, the operator will be allowed, after informing the user through a “warning message”, to apply roaming charges. The rule will apply to calls, messages and internet data on mobile phones.

Some MEPs have criticized this balance pointing out that the original idea to “roam like home” has not been applied by the Commission and the new agreement will mark a departure from its original intentions, and the fair use principle represents a reinterpretation of the original purpose, Ars Technica UK reports.

The Commission will keep working to reach the agreement for the proposal as soon as possible and to ensure that “roam like home” becomes a reality for European travellers by the second half of 2017.

The European Commission's Factsheet on roaming charges provides a very clear description of the aims of the initiative.


Ilaria Fevola


2016-12-14 16:50

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