European commissioners back latest changes to draft roaming rate abolition plans

EC building, Brussels

European commissioners agreed revisions to draft rules covering plans to abolish mobile roaming charges across the bloc that remove time limits and so-called ‘fair use’ principles.

The commission announced on Wednesday that members of the college of commissioners agreed that there should be no restrictions on the number of days roaming subscribers would benefit from the abolition of roaming charges in the European Union. The commissioners also agreed that operators should not be able to activate fair use policies for roaming subscribers, a move that EC president Jean-Claude Juncker called for in early September.

In a statement, the EC said that the decision will benefit consumers and operators alike, with the latter being offered protection from potential abuses of the plans to abolish roaming fees in June 2017.

“Parliament and the Council agreed on our proposal to end roaming charges for travellers in the EU,” Andrus Ansip, VP for the Digital Single Market, explained. “Together we need to ensure low prices for users all across Europe, to make full use of new mobile services. European consumers would not accept it otherwise,” he added.

European consumer groups reacted badly to EC rules for the abolition of roaming fees when they were first released in October 2015. The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) for example, argued that proposals to restrict the number of days roaming subscribers would be able to access lower fees would not create a “real digital single market”. The group added that the EC appeared to be seeking to safeguard “the short-term interests of the telecom sector”.

Wednesday’s discussion appeared to address such criticism, with draft rules that will enable travelling EU citizens to use their devices in the same way as they would at home.

Günther H. Oettinger, commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said the commission’s actions regarding roaming fees have already “delivered for European consumers,” and that the updated draft rules “ensure we can end roaming charges as of 15 June 2017 for all people who travel periodically in the EU, while ensuring that operators have the tools to guard against abuse of the rules.”

The EC’s roaming rules are due to be adopted by Dec. 15.

The college of commissioners comprises all 28 European Commissioners, and is responsible for deciding on the EC’s strategies and political priorities. The current college will hold office until Oct. 31 2019.

For more:
- see this EC announcement
- view this explanation of the College’s functions

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