Hall: EU telecoms proposal can cement UK’s place as a leading digital economy

In his annual State of the Union speech today at the European Parliament, Commission President Barroso unveiled proposals to create a single telecoms market in the EU which could boost annual GDP growth across the EU by around 0.9%. The proposals include phasing out mobile phone roaming charges and new rules to improve consumer protection.

Fiona Hall MEP, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, commented:

“A truly integrated telecoms sector will mean lower prices and more choice for customers. Putting an end to mobile roaming charges will mean people can go on holiday in Europe without having to worry about racking up large bills while they’re abroad. And new measures will prevent the misleading advertising of internet speeds so you can be sure that you are getting what you pay for.”

The proposals also include measures to encourage investment in modern broadband infrastructure and promote cross-border trade in digital services.

Ms Hall added:                                              

“With trade moving increasingly online, improving connectivity is crucial if we are to build an economy fit for the future. The UK now has the biggest per-capita spend on e-commerce in the world, and around a third of all online cross-border trade in Europe goes through UK retailers. Creating a more connected continent will allow us to build on these strengths and cement the UK’s place as a leading digital economy.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable added:

“This is an important step towards creating an EU digital single market which will give a significant boost to employment and growth across the UK. Opening up new opportunities for our most innovative businesses and entrepreneurs will help us create jobs, especially for young people, and build a stronger and more balanced economy.”

Notes to Editors

-More details of the Commission proposal for a single telecoms market can be found here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-828_en.htm

-The Commission has estimated that the untapped potential of a single market for electronic communications corresponds to a yearly amount of 0.9% GDP, or 110 billion Euros http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/news/background-paper-public-information-session-telecoms-single-market

-The per capita, per annum spend on e-commerce in the UKis higher than anywhere else in the world https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/making-the-single-market-more-effective

-In 2012, 30 per cent of all online cross-border trade in Europe went through UKretailers http://news.bis.gov.uk/Press-Releases/Online-retail-in-UK-set-to-top-77bn-in-2012-67b62.aspx

-Mobile phone calls are currently five times cheaper in Lithuaniaand two times cheaper in Belgiumthan in the UK(the 10th most expensive country). The proposed telecoms package will increase competition and drive down costs for consumers by opening the market to more companies from across the continent. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-767_en.htm

-The Commission proposes to end charges for incoming roaming calls by 2014. It will also encourage operators to form alliances with other networks to offer EU-wide bundles (covering at least 85% of the European population and 21 European member states) while customers will be able to freely switch to another provider when travelling in the EU. Liberal Democrat MEPs are committed to a roaming-free Europeby 2015, and will work closely with Dutch Liberal Commissioner Nellie Kroes to achieve this. http://libdemmeps.com/?p=1100

-The proposal will also include common standards for consumer protection, including measures to prevent the misleading advertising of internet speeds. Under current OFCOM rules, advertised speeds must only be achievable by 10% of a provider’s customers http://media.ofcom.org.uk/2012/08/15/network-upgrades-boost-average-broadband-speeds/

-The proposal aims to encourage investment in modern broadband infrastructure such as 4g by streamlining regulations, cutting red tape and encouraging economies of scale across the EU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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