Mobile operators have lost their battle to to overturn an EU plan to reduce the amount they can charge for using mobiles abroad.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) backed a Parliamentary ruling made in 2007 that operators cap the maximum charge for making an inter-Europe call to 35 cents (29p) and 11 cents to receive a call by 2011.
The UK’s four biggest mobile operators – O2, Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile – challenged this ruling but their claims were dismissed.
Orange was highly critial of the decision. A spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with the decision expressed today by the European Court of Justice and feel that this does not reflect the best interests of the European market. We will of course continue to comply with European regulations in force.”
Vodafone insisted the ruling would not affect its customers. A spokesperson said: “Vodafone’s roaming prices are already below those set by the regulation, so the decision will not affect what our customers pay today. We will be reading in detail the reasons for the ECJ’s ruling.”
An O2 spokesperson said: “We accept the ECJ ruling. It is important to note that the mobile operators were not challenging the substance of the regulation per se, but the basis on which the regulation was justified, and so in turn ensure that the EU takes proper consideration for future regulation.”
Three welcomed the decision. A spokesperson said: “The decision to put a cap in place after Three and a range of consumer groups lobbies the European Commission to bring an end to excessive roaming pricing in Europe and allow true competition. The Court’s ruling not only reinforces the Commission’s original decision, but ensures consumers can continue to enjoy cheaper calls when abroad, something that has already saved people many millions of pounds.”