-  Saturday 15 August 2020

EU weighs roaming charges

MARCH 24, 2006  
CURRENT EU president Austria will study whether international roaming charges could be cut or even scrapped.The proposal - which is expected to face fierce industry opposition - was put to EU leaders by the Irish government at a two-day summit.
It lends support to the European Commission's expected announcement next week of an outline regulation to bring down roaming charges, seen as a money-spinner for operators but a bane for business travellers and tourists.

"We will certainly take this up. This certainly has added-value for the European citizens," an Austrian government spokesman said, adding his government, which holds the rotating six-month EU presidency, would see if the plan could be taken further.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern made the proposal to cut or eliminate the charges on using a mobile phone outside a consumer's home country, an Irish spokesman said.

 Such a proposal would show citizens the EU was working in their interests, he said.

"The Austrian presidency (of the EU) has agreed to an Irish insertion in the conclusions tomorrow to pursue the elimination or reduction of roaming charges across the European Union," the Irish spokesman said.

EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding was due to present an update on roaming charges and outline a new regulation to bring down roaming charges on Tuesday.

Ms Reding has said roaming charges were too high. But mobile phone operators said they were already bringing down fees.

The EU executive has said it would not intervene to fix the price of mobile phone calls.

Regulation would need the approval of member states and the European Parliament.

The telecoms industry accused Ms Reding of acting in haste and creating legal uncertainty.

Brussels has long indicated its concern about roaming charges. In February 2005 the EU executive formally charged Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile unit and Vodafone for overcharging visitors to Germany.

In July last year the Commission again said it was not satisfied that roaming charges reflected effective competition and announced it would take action.


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