Last step to end roaming fees: Council approves wholesale deal
On 8 February 2017 member states' ambassadors endorsed the deal on wholesale caps that will put an end to retail mobile roaming charges in the EU on 15 June this year. The presidency reached a provisional agreement on the wholesale rules with the European Parliament on 31 January.
As the culmination of a 10-year process to push down roaming fees, people will finally be able to travel across Europe and stay connected just as they do at home, without paying extra.
The successive decisions that the EU has taken, first to reduce retail roaming charges, and now to abolish them, are underpinned by a set of rules governing operators when they do business with each other. In particular, these rules cap how much operators may charge each other when consumers call, text or surf in another EU country.
The new, significantly lower caps are designed to allow mobile phone operators to offer surcharge-free roaming to their customers without increasing domestic prices. Together with the retail fair use policy, the wholesale rules help ensure that the abolition of roaming charges is sustainable throughout the EU.
Dr Emmanuel Mallia, the Maltese Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy, said: "Ending roaming fees is very good news for all Europeans. I am pleased that the Maltese presidency has brought this file to a successful close. It is key to making further progress towards achieving a European Digital Single Market. Malta will be celebrating this achievement with its fellow EU member states on the 15th and 16th of June during the Digital Assembly 2017 event, which will be held in Malta."
The agreed text will now undergo technical finalisation. It must then be formally approved first by the Parliament and then by the Council (agreement at first reading).
It is envisaged that the Parliament will adopt the regulation in April and the Council at the latest in May. Adoption by the Council does not need to take place in the Telecom Council: any Council configuration has the power to adopt the legal act.
The adopted regulation will be signed by both institutions. This could take place at the Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg in May. The signed text will be published in the EU Official Journal and will enter into force three days later.
The new wholesale regulation must be in effect by 15 June 2017 so that retail roaming fees can be abolished as laid down in the roaming regulation adopted in 2015.
For more information and the agreed caps, see our press release from 31 January 2017 (link below)