Labour MEPs welcome end to roaming in the EU

MEPs today reached a deal with member states on the Telecoms Single Market package that will see an end to roaming charges across the EU on 15 June 2017.

The agreement will also bring more certainty to net neutrality provisions.

Throughout the negotiations – which have taken over a year – the Labour MEPs insisted on a clear end-date for roaming costs in the face of mounting opposition from some countries.

Despite this opposition, an agreement was reached which will see a decrease in roaming charges from April 30, 2016 until the official end to roaming charges kicks in on June 15 the following year.

As of summer 2017 it will cost mobile phone users the same to send text messages, make or receive calls and use data wherever they are in the EU.

The agreement on net neutrality provisions means the internet will remain open and the creation of a two-speed internet in Europe will be prohibited so internet service providers will not be able to give paying customers better service than less financially lucrative traffic.

During the negotiations, Labour MEPs stated that all internet traffic should be treated equally, without discrimination or restriction, and that limited traffic management should be possible where it pertains to child protection measures and to give priority to emergency services, where necessary.

Today’s agreement will mean public-interest exceptions to the principle of net neutrality, can continue in very limited circumstances and that internet service providers can block internet traffic for the purpose of countering cyber-attacks or child pornography.

Speaking from Brussels following the conclusion of the negotiations, North West MEP Theresa Griffin, Labour’s spokesperson on Industry in the European Parliament, added:

“Today’s agreement will mean both an end to outrageous phone-bills for consumers when they return from their holiday but it will also give governments the flexibility they need to ensure children remain safe on the internet.”

Catherine Stihler, Labour’s spokesperson on consumer affairs in the European Parliament, said:

“It is an important step forward to have an agreement set in stone on a date to end roaming charges; however, the Parliament would have liked to have seen it sooner.

“It is great that under the first ever EU-wide open internet rules, operators will have to treat all traffic equally when providing internet access services. Blocking or throttling will be allowed only in a limited number of circumstances and only to protect consumers and citizens from harmful content.

“I now urge the member states to formally accept the proposed text as soon as possible.”