MEPs are calling for mobile roaming charges in the EU to be scrapped altogether by December 2015 following a landmark vote today on reforming the EU telecoms market.
Current EU caps on roaming charges have saved consumers across the EU an estimated £8bn since they were introduced from 2009, and new lower caps coming into force on 1st July 2014 will bring costs down even more.
However, Liberal Democrat MEPs are calling for the charges to be scrapped completely, including costly fees for data roaming in the EU which can reach up to £376 per gigabyte.
Commenting, Leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs Fiona Hall said:
“Ending costly roaming fees will give UK citizens travelling in the EU the freedom to use their phones just like they do at home, whether that’s using maps, downloading apps or sharing photos online.
“Liberal Democrats are the Party of In because we believe that engaging in Europe is the best way to deliver for Britain. That means driving down costs for families, creating jobs and opening up new opportunities for businesses overseas.”
Liberal Democrat MEPs also put forward ambitious proposals on net neutrality to safeguard a free and open internet. These call for all internet traffic to be treated equally without discrimination, restriction or interference, and for the blocking and throttling of online content by internet providers to be banned.In addition, consumers who do not get the internet speed they have signed up for will be given the right to cancel their contract.
Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for Justice and Human Rights in the European Parliament Sarah Ludford commented:
“It’s important to establish a strong framework on net neutrality now before bad practices by internet giants become established and widespread.
“These proposals will ensure a regulatory environment that enhances both consumer choice and economic growth.
“This will safeguard the openness of the internet and guarantee a level playing field where consumers can make their own choices about what applications and services they want to use.”
Notes to Editors
Today’s full report on the EU Telecoms Package can be found here. Negotiations on the final legislation between the European Parliament and national governments in the Council are due to take place after the European elections in the second half of 2014.
Under EU caps coming into force on the 1st July 2014, the maximum cost of data roaming in the EU will come down from 40 euro cents (33p) a MB to 25 euro cents (21p) a MB.
Figures uncovered in a Parliamentary Question by Liberal Democrat MEPs show that EU caps on roaming charges have saved consumers EUR 9.6bn (£7.94bn) since 2009.
The European Parliament is calling for a strict definition of net neutrality. Blocking and throttling of internet content will be banned, which will give users access to the full and open internet. Companies will still be able to provide “specialized services” with enhanced quality (such as IPTV, video on demand, tele-surgery) as long as this doesn’t affect the internet speeds promised to other customers.