Statement by Andrus Ansip, Commission Vice-President in charge of the Digital Single Market, and Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, on the end of roaming charges in the EU
Getting rid of roaming charges is one of the best achievements of the European Union in the last few years, and a cornerstone for building the Digital Single Market.
For more than a decade, the Commission has been working to reduce the huge surcharges that telecoms operators imposed on their customers each time they crossed a border while using their mobile device on holiday, at the week-end or during business trips.
After a long battle, these huge bills belong to the past. We have progressively dismantled them.
Before every summer, the Commission announced new lower caps from which Europeans would benefit during their holidays. Since 2007, roaming prices have decreased by more than 90% for calls, text messages and data. This has changed the habits of many Europeans who previously used to switch their mobile phones off while travelling.
In particular, since 30 April this year, roaming charges have been reduced by four times for calls and for data and by three for SMS, compared to previous caps.
We are now at the final hurdle: the complete abolition of roaming charges for European travellers in the EU. This will enter into effect as of 15 June 2017.
Those of us who travel do so on average for 12 days per year. But the Commission goes much further by abolishing roaming charges for at least 90 days per year, much more than the average time that a European is roaming with their phone. So in practice these charges will disappear for the vast majority of us. 99% of European travellers are covered.
In any event, 90 days is the strict minimum. Mobile phone companies can always offer more or even choose not to apply limits at all. Some have already done so, and we strongly encourage this.
Why did the Commission put forward the 90 days minimum? Very simple: We have to strike the right balance. We want to abolish roaming charges for people who travel. Without a few safeguards to avoid abuses - safeguards that the European Parliament and Council have asked the Commission to specify - network quality and investments in new capacity in some countries may suffer as people could opt for different territorial operators, and the domestic mobile prices might go up as operators would try to compensate losses.
Those who travel to and from work, crossing borders every day, are not concerned by the minimum of 90 days.
The Commission has fought for years to decrease roaming charges. Finally, Europeans will be able to spend their holidays in peace, without the worry of big phone bills when they come home.