"The European Parliament will today ensure that we cross the final hurdle to abolish mobile roaming charges in the EU," Seán Kelly MEP said ahead of a plenary vote to agree a wholesale roaming cap in the European Parliament yesterday (Thursday). The introduction of the wholesale roaming cap is an absolutely essential piece of legislation to allow citizens to roam-like-at-home when using their mobile phone in another EU country from June 15th, according to the Ireland South MEP.
"The end of roaming fees on June 15th this year is already agreed. From that date, consumers will no longer be ripped off when paying for mobile calls, texts and data when they travel to another EU Member State."
"As an MEP who has campaigned for the abolishment of roaming for the last seven years, I am delighted that we are now nearly there. It is already 18 months since, in 2015, it was proudly announced here in the European Parliament that, after a long process, Roam-like-at-home was to be introduced by June 2017. It was a very high profile and important announcement. While today's vote might not have the same ‘fanfare’, its importance cannot be overstated," Mr Kelly said in Strasbourg.
Today's vote will ensure that wholesale roaming charges or what operators pay to roam on another operators’ network, is sustainable and does not enables distort the domestic visited and home markets.
The caps arrived at in the end - €0.032 for voice call, a gradually decreasing cap, from €7.75 (15/06/2017) to €6 (01/01/2018), €4.5 (01/01/2019), €3.5 (01/01/2020), €3 (01/01/2021), €2.5 (01/01/2022) per gigabyte of data, and €0.01 for text messages - represent a fantastic result for the European Parliament, Mr Kelly said, particularly given the majority in Council that favored the higher caps.
"If you look at the starting positions of the three institutions before the negotiations on the roaming data caps in particular, it is clear that the end result is a significant victory for the European Parliament, and indeed for Ireland, who supported the lower caps at Council level. The latest data shows that wholesale data prices are declining by around 40% annually across the EU – the overly cautious Council position just didn't reflect reality. I feel the final result could even have been more ambitious, but such is the nature of compromise.
"Now, largely due to the great work by the European Parliament, we can enable roaming to be provided without additional surcharges for consumers, or undue costs for providers - it is a good and balanced approach. This agreement will ensure competitive telecoms markets across the EU. Additionally, and crucially for my own country, it will help to ensure the sustainability of the low-cost data plans such as those we enjoy in Ireland, as higher caps would have put artificially high costs onto Irish providers, inevitably leading to an increase in domestic tariffs for Irish consumers.
The "roam-like-at-home" win for consumers clearly demonstrates the value of EU membership, Mr Kelly added: "UK citizens will not benefit from this post-Brexit - yet another benefit that they will miss out on."