EU to rethink mobile roaming guidelines after uproar

The European Commission has withdrawn a proposal that would allow mobile phone companies to continue charging roaming fees in some situations despite pledges to scrap the rates entirely, it announced Friday, following an uproar over the plans.

The European Union's executive has been gradually lowering roaming costs - fees that mobile phone companies can charge customers for using their devices when they travel within the bloc.

Against a backdrop of growing popular disillusionment with the EU, the commission's roaming policy has been seen as an overall success for consumers, who had been told that roaming charges would end by mid-2017.

But the commission proposed Monday that telecoms companies should be able to apply the fees to people who use their phone abroad for more than 90 days a year, to prevent consumers from shopping around for cheaper mobile tariffs in other member states.

The commission initially argued that this would affect such a small proportion of consumers as to be virtually irrelevant, and would not impact anyone who commuted across borders. Its roaming policy has always included some caveats aimed at preventing abuse.

But late Thursday - days before European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is due to give his highly-awaited annual state of the union speech - his office backtracked on the proposal.

"In the light of the feedback that we have received ... the president has instructed the [commission] services to withdraw that draft proposal and to work on a new one, on a better one," spokesman Alexander Winterstein said Friday.

The commission will present new proposals very soon, he said, suggesting that they could come next week.

Last update: Fri, 09/09/2016 - 19:22
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