EU Plans to Remove Roaming Charges by 2015

7th June 2013

Whether you love or hate the European Union, I think we can all agree that nobody likes being hit by massive roaming charges whilst abroad, despite over three quarters of us Brits admitting we are happy to use our mobiles outside of the UK (see previous blog).

It has been listed as one of the “key performance targets for the digital single market” that the difference between national and roaming charges is zero by the year 2015.

This is a further step on the initial efforts by the European Commission (EC) to cap roaming charges.  In 2010, a report acknowledged that whilst efforts had been made (via new legislation) to lower roaming prices, there still wasn’t good enough competition or choice for consumers.

The move is being spearheaded by Neelie Kroes – the European commissioner for digital policies.  Kroes has consistently played a key role in pressuring EU member governments for slowing down the sale of the 4G spectrum, and has already made sure a cap was introduced on EU roaming charges that will come into effect from 1st July 2014, that will continue lowering roaming charges through to July 2017.  It is believed amongst three quarters of European telecoms professionals that customer satisfaction will increase.

Current limits allow EU carriers to charge up to 35 euro cents (about 30p) a minute for a roaming call, and up to 79 euro cents (about 67p) for every megabyte of data downloaded.  Apparently this accounts for 5% of revenue for most major carriers.

Some sceptics fear that Kroes’ determination to break down the barriers and create a free, single market could in fact decrease competition, as it could allow the biggest operators – Vodafone, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom – to dominate the market and extend their influence to the furthest reaches of the EU.

Kroes’ new plan would actually eradicate the changes planned for introduction in July 2014.

This is good news for travellers, businessmen and those wishing to contact their family or friends whilst abroad.  It is also especially good for those using our cheap international calls system to contact UK mobiles in countries such as Germany, France, The Netherlands, Italy and Spain etc., as these mobiles are soon to have the cost for receiving such calls greatly reduced – or indeed completely removed.

Given Neelie Kroes’ track record of “getting things done”, it certainly looks like a bright future for EU mobile consumers, should this plan get the likely green light it needs.


Robin James