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End of roaming: MEPs negotiate safeguards to prevent abuse


Roaming charges are on track to be abolished next June, but the rules setting out when mobile providers can charge domestic charges still have to be finalised. Companies fear consumers will try to buy a SIM card from the EU country with the lowest charges rather than from their own country. We asked Pilar del Castillo, the Spanish EPP member responsible for negotiating with the European Commission and Council on this issue, to answer questions we received from our Facebook followers.

The Commission has published draft rules to help prevent people abusing the system when roaming charges end in June 2017. Parliament’s industry committee discussed the proposal on Monday 26 September.

Del Castillo explained there would be no limits on roaming, including for using the internet: “There will be no difference between using the provisions of your contract in your own country and using them abroad, when travelling for work or for leisure.”

However, she said safeguards were necessary to protect companies and prevent the system being abused. Del Castillo said roaming would be free provided people had a contract in the country they lived in or in a country where they have stable links such as work or study.

This is known as the reasonable use clause. For example, a couple living in France could buy a French SIM card, but not a Latvian one if they did not have stable links there. However, if one of them had a job across the border in Germany, then they would be allowed to buy a SIM card there as employment counts as a stable link.

Next steps

In addition to MEP’s, the Commission’s new proposal has been shared with the Communications Committee (COCOM) and the  Body of European Regulators in Electronic Communications (BEREC).

The Commission aims to adopt the final rules by 15 December so that it is still in time for the end of roaming charges on 15 June 2017.