Lawmaker wants optional cap for EU roaming fees

European Union legislation creating a compulsory cap on mobile phone roaming charges would lead to a sudden massive drop in network providers' revenues that could cause share prices to plummet, a key EU lawmaker, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.

The Associated Press report quoted Austrian Christian Democrat Paul Ruebig, who is charged with steering the proposed European Union regulation through the European Parliament, as saying that he was in favor of an optional rather than compulsory EU-wide cap on charges for existing customers.

The assembly is preparing for a showdown between center-right and center-left deputies in a May vote on a proposed price ceiling on roaming fees, one of the most lobbied pieces of EU legislation in recent years, the report said.

EU governments are to decide on it in June, in time for the European summer holiday season, the report added.

The EU executive is asking them to support its plan for a compulsory upper limit for how much phone companies can charge customers who use their phones abroad, claiming network providers are reaping massive profits from unjustifiably high roaming charges that can increase call costs fourfold, the report said.

The commission wants to cut the cost of mobile phone calls for cross-border travelers by up to 70%.

Ruebig said some companies already offer a better deal for roaming than the proposed EU-wide ceiling, set by the European Commission, the report said.