Tuesday, 15 May 2007

EU Mobile Roaming Regulation May Never Happen

You may recall that on 12 April 2007, we reported on how the European Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy Committee approved the Commission's proposal of July 2006 for an EU Regulation on mobile roaming in the Internal Market. The European Commission wants to reduce the charges mobile phone users have to pay for making calls abroad by up to 70%. In general, the Commission, Parliament and Council agree on the objectives of the EU Roaming Regulation, but unsurprisingly mobile operators do not share their enthusiasm.

It is important to recall that Europe's telecom industry has been lobbying against roaming regulation. The roaming service is estimated to be worth €8.5 billion a year. Telecom companies have seen the cut on retail prices as an unprecedented excessive government intervention in prices.

The current negotiations between the presidency, Commission and the European Parliament have not been as successful during the last few days. Not all Member States such as UK and France are in favour of wide roaming fees cuts. Unsurprisingly, an agreement has not been reached yet over the price cuts for making and receiving calls and whether consumers should be obliged to “opt in “or “opt out” of the Consumer Protection Tariff. Therefore, the vote on the Plenary Session, scheduled for the 9 May, has been postponed.

As a result, if Member States and the European Parliament do not reach an agreement until the next Plenary Session, due to be held around the 22 May, the EU Council of Telecom Ministers would not be able to formally adopt EU Roaming Regulation during their meeting on 7 June. Consequently, a second reading might be necessary and the law would not come into force before the summer.

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