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No more mobile roaming fees throughout the EU by 2017

A political deal has been reached to scrap mobile roaming fees in the EU by 2017, following almost two years of negotiations. All roaming surcharges for travellers in the EU, whether for calls, texts or data, will be completely abolished as of 15 June 2017.

In an interim phase, fees will be capped in April next year at €0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 for text messages and €0.05 per MB of data.

The deal was reached late on Monday night in talks between negotiators from the European Parliament, Council and Commission.

The agreement is set to be formally approved in the coming months by national ministers in the EU Council and a vote in the European Parliament.

Under the agreement, roaming providers will be able to apply a ‘fair use policy’ to prevent abusive use of roaming. This would include using roaming services for purposes other than periodic travel.

Last year MEPs voted to scrap roaming charges by the end of 2016, but in a compromise with national governments this has been put forward to June 2017.

The agreement also foresees atrong net neutrality rules protecting the right of every European to access Internet content, without discrimination.

A Commission spokesman said, “These measures will be completed by an ambitious overhaul of EU telecoms rules in 2016. This reform will include a more effective EU-level spectrum coordination. Creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish is a key objective of the Commission’s plan for a Digital Single Market.”

Welcoming the agreement AndrusAnsip, Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: “Europeans have been calling and waiting for the end of roaming charges as well as for net neutrality rules. They have been heard. We still have a lot of work ahead of us to create a Digital Single Market. Our plans to make it happen were fully endorsed by heads of state and government last week, and we should move faster than ever on this.”

Günther H.Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said: “I welcome this crucial agreement to finally end roaming charges and establish pragmatic net neutrality rules throughout the EU. Both are essential for consumers and businesses in today’s European digital economy and society. We will build on these important foundations in our forthcoming review of the EU’s telecoms legislation.”

Further comment came from UK Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who commented:”Finally the end of rip-off roaming charges in Europe is firmly in sight.

“From Riga to Rome, two years from now holidaymakers will be free to use their phones freely wherever they are in the EU.

“This shows how being in the EU means we can deliver a fairer, cheaper deal for British consumers.”

By Martin Banks

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