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EU to end all roaming charges by June 2017

Kit Klarenberg
Written By:
Kit Klarenberg

Data roaming charges are to be abolished within the European Union by June 2017. 

Under a deal announced today, any overseas visitor travelling anywhere in the EU will pay the same mobile rates they do at home, with no supplementary charges. This will apply to both national and international phone usage.

“Europeans have been calling and waiting for the end of roaming charges, and now they have been heard,” said Andrus Ansip, Commission vice-president for the Digital Single Market.

“Our plans to make this happen were fully endorsed by heads of state and government last week, and we should move faster than ever on this.”

The announcement comes almost two years after the EU proposed a single market for telecommunications in Europe.

Since 2007, prices for roaming calls, texts and data usage have fallen 80 per cent. Data roaming is now up to 91 per cent cheaper compared to 2007. In April this year, supplementary roaming charges in the EU fell to a capped rate of €0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 per text sent, and €0.05 per MB of data used (excl. VAT).

Günther H. Oettinger, commissioner for the digital economy and society said the agreement was “crucial”, and “essential for consumers and businesses in today’s European digital economy and society.”

“We will build on these important foundations in our forthcoming review of the EU’s telecoms legislation,” he said.

However, industry reaction within the UK has been more muted.

“We’ve heard this before. Data roaming charges were due to be abolished in the EU at the end of 2015 and the U-turn confused and frustrated people,” said Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com.

“Mid 2017 is a long way off, particularly when a fifth of UK holidaymakers have returned home from an EU trip in the past year to find their bill was, on average, £61 higher than usual – amounting to £573 million collectively. Of these, around one in six had to pay upwards of £100 on top of their normal bill.

“Let’s hope there’ll be no more backtracking after Europe’s mobile networks have had their say.

However, Gautam Srivastava, mobiles expert at MoneySuperMarket.com, said the announcement was “a massive win for customers both in the UK and in Europe.”

“This is a fantastic signal of intent by the European Commission to move toward a free and fair single digital market in the EU which will mean even greater freedom for customers.

“While European roaming charges have been falling since 2007 and caps have been put in place – many customers still suffer bill shock when travelling in Europe. From June 2017 though, you’ll be able to use your mobile in the EU as you would do right here in the UK – so no more worrying about data limits or making and receiving calls when you’re on holiday.”