Roaming Vote in the European Parliament: "The bell is now tolling for international roaming charges in Europe" (Commissioner Viviane Reding)
From the European Commission:
This morning, the European Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee voted on the Commission's proposal of 12 May 2006 for an EU Regulation to reduce international mobile roaming charges by up to 70% by this summer. The ITRE Committee is the European Parliament's lead Committee on the EU Roaming regulation, in association with the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO).
On the outcome of this vote – which supported all the main points of the Commission's proposal for an EU Roaming Regulation –, EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding commented as follows:
"Loudly, the bell is now tolling for international mobile roaming charges in Europe. Thanks to the tremendous work accomplished in the European Parliament over the past days, this last border in the EU's internal market, still visible for the moment on most consumers' mobile phone bill, is now bound to disappear very shortly.
I congratulate Paul Rübig, the Rapporteur on roaming in the European Parliament's Industry Committee, for his great efforts made to match the ambitious proposals presented last July by the Commission with very low price caps both at wholesale and at retail level.
It is very good news for Europe's consumers that the European Parliament's lead Committee wants to allow roaming charges of no more than 40 cents per minute for a mobile call made abroad, and of no more than 15 cents per minute for a call received abroad.
The best part of this is: in the view of the Parliament's Industry Committee, these low roaming tariffs should apply automatically to all customers unless they decide to opt for an even cheaper package offered by a mobile operator (opt out-system). This is the solution also favoured by the Commission, as it is easy to handle and avoids red tape both for consumers and for operators. It also means that mobile operators will now have to convince consumers that they offer an even better package than prescribed by the new EU roaming rules. This is a strong incentive for more competition among mobile operators
I also welcome the fact that the Industry Committee today voted in favour of low price caps at wholesale level. This will help ensure that smaller mobile operators also will be able to compete on the European roaming market.
With today's vote, all Parliament Committees charged with the matter are now supporting all the main points of the Commission proposal, namely regulation both at wholesale and retail level and greater price transparency.
It is now in the hands of 785 Parliamentarians – who are going to vote in May on the final text in the Parliament's plenary – and of the 27 national Telecom Ministers – who will meet for a final formal Council on Roaming in Luxembourg on 7 June – to abolish exorbitant mobile roaming charges once and for all.
In view of the emerging consensus on the new rules, an early entry into force of the EU Roaming Regulation is now a very realistic possibility. With the combined will and efforts of the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission, it should be possible to secure lower roaming tariffs as early as this July.
I call on all EU institutions, Member States and national regulators to work very closely together over the next weeks to make sure that this summer, consumers – and not again the operators – will be able to go on a real roaming vacation."
Today's vote in the European Parliament's ITRE Committee successfully completed the Committee stage of the Parliament's legislative procedure. Thanks to the efforts made in particular by the Rapporteurs of the 4 separate Committees that have now voted on the Commission proposal (Paul Rübig, EPP-ED, Austria, for the Industry, Research and Energy Committee; Joseph Muscat, PSE, Malta, for the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee; Andrea Losco, ALDE, Italy, for the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and Manolis Mavrommatis, EPP-ED, Greece, for the Culture and Education Committee), all the main points of the EU Roaming Regulation (retail and wholesale price caps and grater transparency obligations) have now been approved by all Parliamentary Committees.
The next steps in the legislative process are:
* Vote in the plenary of the European Parliament: expected mid May.
* Formal EU Telecom Council in Luxembourg: 7 June.