Almost two years after the European Commission put forward its proposal for a telecoms single market, the regional bloc said a compromise has been reached on Tuesday, June 30, that will end roaming charges by June 2017.
This means that when traveling in the EU, mobile phone users will pay the same price as at home, with no extra charges.
The EU said the compromise agreement also includes strong Net neutrality rules protecting the right of every European to access Internet content, without discrimination.
The measures will be completed by an ambitious overhaul of EU telecoms rules in 2016. The reform will include a more effective EU-level spectrum coordination.
Andrus Ansip, commission vice-president for the digital single market, said: “Europeans have been calling and waiting for the end of roaming charges as well as for net neutrality rules. They have been heard.”
For a decade, the EU has continuously been working to decrease roaming charges within the region. Prices for roaming calls, SMS and data have fallen by 80% since 2007. Data roaming is now up to 91% cheaper compared to 2007.
Under the agreement roaming charges will cease to exist in the EU as of 15 June 2017. Consumers will pay the same price for calls, texts and mobile data wherever they are traveling in the EU. Calling a friend at home or in another EU country won’t make a difference on their bill.
The agreement also enshrines for the first time the principle of Net neutrality into EU law: users will be free to access the content of their choice, they will not be unfairly blocked or slowed down anymore, and paid prioritization will not be allowed.
?This means, for example, that the access to a start-up’s website will not be unfairly slowed down to make the way for bigger companies. No service will be stuck because it does not pay an additional fee to Internet service providers. There won’t be gatekeepers to decide what you can and cannot access,? the commission said.
In the open Internet, all traffic will be treated equally, subject to strict and clearly identified public-interest exceptions, such as network security or combating child pornography, and subject to efficient day-to-day network management by Internet service providers.
In parallel, Internet access providers will still be able to offer specialized services of higher quality, such as Internet TV and new innovative applications, so long as these services are not supplied at the expense of the quality of the open Internet.
The common EU-wide Internet rules will avoid fragmentation in the single market, creating legal certainty for businesses and making it easier for them to work across borders.
Following the agreement, the text will have to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council. Then it will be translated into all EU languages. After that, it will be published in the Official Journal and will officially enter into force.