The Brief: Roaming U-turn not worth the effort

The Brief is's evening newsletter.


The European Commission today set out its latest plan to abolish EU mobile roaming charges by 2017.

Juncker himself sent his officials scurrying back to the drawing board after not being happy with the Commission’s original plan. Its fair use clause would let you use your phone abroad at no extra cost for up to 90 days a year.

But that wasn’t the deal, MEPs and consumer groups said, we were promised a total ban on roaming.

There was a PR disaster looming, so Juncker stepped in. He had to. The Commission has endlessly pointed to the abolition of roaming as one of the great achievements it has brought for consumers.

Today, Commissioners Ansip and Oettinger introduced the new policy, which neither really appeared to believe in. It introduces anti-abuse safeguards to stop people exploiting different prices across Europe to rig the roaming system.

Operators can crack down by cancelling SIM cards but they will need appeal procedures and regulatory oversight. The system is unclear, confusing and burdensome.

It’s all a lot more complicated than a simple ban, which would cover 99.9% of European consumers.

Only 0.1% of EU consumers travel for more than 90 days in Europe.

Did the Commission really need to bend over backwards to solve a problem that hardly exists?

This Brief is powered by Burson-Marsteller.

Theresa May used her maiden UN speech to insist Britain did not vote to turn its back on the world when it voted for BrexPitt. Sorry, BREXIT.

She also promised the UK will ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change this year. Slovakia, holding the Presidency of the EU, has targeted 7 October to get all member states on board with the deal, which it ratified today.

Brexit could trigger a crisis in the care of older and disabled people in Britain. German MPs will debate offering Brits fast-track citizenship, as Jewish Britons consider reclaiming their German heritage.

Nigel Farage, whose wife is German, has revealed he sleeps naked and embarrasses his kids. Bosnia and Herzegovina is getting closer to joining the EU and Michel Barnier’s Brexit team are planning a European tour.

ClientEarth lawyers are on a European tour, launching court cases against Brussels and other cities with terrible air pollution. Karima Delli MEP wonders how to cut transport’s global warming fumes.

France’s Republicans party has officially confirmed eight right wing presidential candidates, including Nicolas Sarkozy and Alain Juppé, amid unconfirmed rumours that former President Jacques Chirac had died.

French Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has given interviews on tax avoidance, and fiscal discipline. The French budget deficit may also finally hit its EU target but possibly not for very long.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that EU citizens can sue the Troika of the EU, IMF and Commission, if they believe their fundamental rights have been violated by austerity. The idea of a universal basic income is also gaining traction in the EU.

The EU has condemned an attack on a humanitarian convoy in Syria, but unlike the US, has not blamed Russia.

EU trade ministers and Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström meet tomorrow in Bratislava. Up for discussion is the EU’s trade ties with the USA, Canada and China, and how to modernise its trade defence toolkit. Thousands protested yesterday in Brussels against free trade agreements with the US and Canada.



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