Parliament postpones vote on mobile roaming fees

The European Parliament will postpone a vote on capping roaming charges for mobile phone calls in the European Union, officials, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.

The Associated Press report further said this means the plan to have a new price ceiling in place by the European summer holiday season is in jeopardy.

The report said negotiators for the EU assembly and governments have tried to hammer out an agreement to limit extra charges levied by network providers on calls made and received abroad, but they still differ on key details of the plan, official from the EU Commission and Parliament said.

Austrian conservative lawmaker Paul Ruebig, who is charged with steering the regulation through the EU assembly, was quoted as saying that time was 'extremely tight' and the parliament would not be able to vote on the proposed new scheme, one of the most lobbied pieces of EU legislation in recent years, next week as scheduled as there was still no agreement between the institutions on several points.

The vote would now take place in the third week of May at the earliest, the parliament official said.

This would theoretically still give national governments time to approve the plan at their June 7 meeting, but any further glitches would mean the proposed price ceiling would not take effect by the summer holidays, and holidaymakers would not be able to enjoy cheaper rates, the report said.

The key points of contention are how low the price ceiling should be set and whether it would apply automatically to all roaming customers, as the parliament and commission want, or only to those who ask for it, as proposed by EU governments, the report further said.