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Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
Roaming for the smartphone generation
European Parliament Plenary debate on Roaming
Brussels, 9 May 2012
I am delighted that the Parliament and Council have now agreed on a new Roaming Regulation, on the basis of the Commission's proposal. As you know, Coreper endorsed the deal on 28th March; I look forward to the Parliament formally doing so tomorrow.
Let me remind you what's at stake. These days, mobiles are everywhere. People expect to use their phones wherever they go. Especially across internal borders that are supposed to have disappeared. And better smartphones, tablets and online content mean a boom in mobile data.
In that context, high roaming charges are an irritant for citizens, and an obstacle to the Single Market. People are fed up with nasty surprises when they open their bill. Today we can put an end to them once and for all—for voice, for text, and for data. And show how the EU protects citizens' interests.
The agreement we have in front of us will do that in three new ways.
First, we now have a "future-proof" solution. Injecting competition into roaming markets will mean, for the first time ever, a structural, sustainable way to protect consumers.
Because competition is the best guarantee of long-term low prices.
Under the new rules, mobile users are empowered to pick the roaming provider right for their travel needs, separately from their domestic provider; while companies will be able to compete through innovative services.
Second, also for the first time ever, we are tackling data roaming. People who want to browse abroad shouldn't be held back by a fear of high charges. It's a constraint on citizens, a constraint on businesses, and a constraint on economic growth. This agreement removes that constraint. By capping data charges, and by letting people choose their data roaming provider — perhaps just as easily as they'd choosing a WiFi network.
And, third, also for the first time ever, we are extending protections beyond the EU. With better on-the-spot information and warnings about roaming charges, to avoid nasty bill surprises when you get home. This too we can deliver with this agreement.
Of course, you shouldn't see this agreement in isolation. Roaming is one piece in a much bigger story.
We are promoting competition and lower consumer prices – as we have done with mobile termination rates and continue to do in telecoms markets.
We are putting Europe at the forefront of the data revolution – through access to cheap data – as we could also do with our proposals to open up public sector data.
And we are building a digital Single Market with consistent rules so Europeans can easily enjoy great content, wherever they are and on whatever device – as we will be doing through our proposals on the Cloud, data protection, e-ID and many more.
I hope in all of these we can enjoy a success like the one we celebrate today.
Thank you once again for your constructive work and collaboration.
It's helped us find a solid and balanced agreement in record time. One that will deliver for Europeans who travel; deliver for our Single Market; and deliver for our economy. Thank you.