MEPs vote to end mobile roaming charges by December 2015 despite Conservative opposition – Fiona Hall

140204 - No Roaming Fees _ with N  Kroes - IMG_3498 (2)Mobile roaming charges across the EU are set to be abolished altogether by December 2015 following a vote in the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee today. These include costly charges for data roaming, which are currently capped at £376 per gigabyte in the EU.

However, Conservatives voted for an amendment that would reject the proposals altogether. Meanwhile UKIP MEPs did not turn up for the vote but have made it clear in the past that they oppose efforts to cut the costly fees.

Commenting, Leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs Fiona Hall said:

“UKIP and the Tories have once again put their anti-EU ideology ahead of the interests of British consumers and businesses.

“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.

“But a more connected continent will also benefit Britain’s thriving digital economy, including app designers who currently lose out because people don’t use their phones abroad.

“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.”

Notes to Editors

The report voted today in the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee can be found here. It is scheduled to be voted on by the full European Parliament on the 3rd April during a mini plenary session in Brussels. The negotiations on the final legislation with EU national governments in the Council are due to take place after the European elections in the second half of 2014.

Amendment 154 tabled by Conservative MEP Giles Chichester proposed to reject the EU proposal altogether. Conservative MEPs voted for it but it was overwhelmingly rejected by the ITRE committee.

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. Thanks to EU-wide caps data roaming in Croatia is now 15 times cheaper than one year ago, when the country was not yet part of the EU. For more details on current and future EU caps on roaming fees see here.

A recent survey by the European Commission found that 47% of EU citizens avoid using mobile internet when travelling in another EU country and that telecoms companies are missing out on a market of around 300 million phone users because of current pricing strategies.

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