EU roaming fees to be scrapped from June 2017 in landmark ruling

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Agreement made in June has been formally adopted by the European Parliament; small surcharges for outgoing calls, texts and mobile internet use from end of April 2016 

EU roaming fees will be scrapped from June 2017 in a new landmark ruling made by the European Parliament.

As of April 2016, roaming charges must not exceed €0.05 per minute for outgoing voice calls, €0.02 for text messages (SMS), or €0.05 per megabyte of mobile internet use.

The cap on charges for incoming calls will be determined later this year, with the European Parliament stating they are expected to be considerably lower than for outgoing calls.

Then from June 15, 2017, roaming fees for calling, sending text messages and using the mobile internet broad in the EU and in EEA countries will be banned.

The European Parliament has also ruled that if operators can prove they can’t recover costs and that this affects domestic prices, national regulatory authorities may allow them to impose minimal surcharges in exceptional circumstances to recover those costs.

To protect the industry against abuses such as “permanent roaming”, it added operators could in certain circumstances be allowed to charge a small fee, lower than current caps, according to a “fair use” policy.

The European Commission presented its proposal for a ‘telecoms single market’ in September 2013 before the European Parliament voted on its first reading of the draft legislation in April 2014.

The Council adopted a mandate to negotiate in March 2015 under the Latvian Presidency. Negotiations led to an agreement on June 30, which was formally adopted by the Council on October 1 and by the European Parliament today.

European Commission vice president Andrus Ansip said: “The voice of Europeans has been heard. Today’s vote is the final result of intense efforts to put an end to roaming charges in the European Union and to safeguard the open internet.

“This is the culmination of hard work by the Commission, and in particular by former Vice-Presidents Viviane Reding and Neelie Kroes, to tackle high roaming charges. This is not only about money; this is about bringing down barriers in the Digital Single Market.

“Today’s achievement is a first step towards a Telecoms Single Market. More work will need to be done to overcome national silos and address challenges such as spectrum coordination. We will go further as early as next year with an ambitious overhaul of EU telecoms rules. We count on the support of the European Parliament and Member States to make this happen.”

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