A key committee in the Parliament backed a proposal, on 12 April, to slash costs for mobile phone customers using their handsets in other EU countries and to make the cheaper rates apply automatically to all users.
- Cheaper cross-border calls…
The Parliament’s 54-member Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE), on 12 April, backed a report, drafted by Austrian MEP Paul Rübig, calling for roaming charges to be capped at a maximum €0.40 for outgoing calls, and €0.15 for incoming calls (plus value-added tax).
This goes further than what was proposed by the Council, i.e. a cap of €0.50 for outgoing calls and €0.25 for incoming calls – figures which were supported by another Parliament Committee (Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee or IMCO) in March.
- …for everyone…
The ITRE Committee voted that all European mobile phone users should automatically benefit from the new regulated charges when using their handsets abroad. Customers may also decide to move to cheaper packages offered by other mobile operators (‘opt out-system’).
This vote reveals a split in Parliament, after the IMCO Committee, in March (EURACTIV 23/03/07), backed a proposal that would have made the cheaper roaming tariffs available only for those who explicitly told their operators that they wanted the new rates (‘opt-in’ mechanism).
- …as of next summer?
The Commission is keen to implement the rules by July 2007. But Parliament and member states must first agree on all details of the rules, including the exact tariff caps and who they should apply to. Disagreements could lead to the legislative procedure being extended by anything from a few months to a year.