The European Union is on course to end mobile roaming charges for EU residents travelling the continent.
The EU announced on Wednesday that caps on wholesale charges, which refers to the amount that phone operators charge each other for using their phones abroad, had been agreed.
It is believed that the implementation of these caps will allow the roaming charges currently in use to come to an end.
This news will benefit those looking use their phones abroad, as it means that there will no longer be extra charges for using your phone in Europe, effectively eliminating the ‘shock bills’ that had become commonplace.
The caps will need to be formally approved by the European Parliament, and its member states, however the deal is seen as being a message that the EU still works for its citizens and can function effectively. The agreement and the way in which it was agreed stands as an act of defiance in the face of the EU’s critics, following the UK’s Brexit vote and growing pressure from other anti-EU parties across the continent.
UK residents will benefit from the agreement for as long as the country remains a member of the EU, which is expected to be early to mid-2019. After this point, any benefits felt by UK citizens will depend on the agreements made in the Brexit negotiations.
The agreement was announced by Malta, who currently hold the ‘rotating’ EU presidency. Digital minister, Emmanuel Mallia, said: “Today’s decision is the final step in a process that started 10 years ago, … Roam like at home is now a reality.”
It is expected that there will be a drop in wholesale roaming charges of up to 90 per cent. These charges will be capped at €7.75 per Gb for data usage, and there are also caps on calls and texts, at €0.032 (3p) per minute for calls, and €0.001 (1p) per text.
It is believed that the main point of contention during negotiations was due to the differences in domestic prices, which alongside the issue of consumption patterns made the talks considerably more difficult.
Countries that are summer holiday hotspots were concerned that they may have to increase domestic prices in order to offset the costs from overseas tourists.
MEP Paul Rubig, who handled negotiations on behalf of the largest grouping in the European Parliament, spoke of his frustrations, saying: “We want a truly functioning digital single market.
“The telecoms ministers of some EU member states still seem to care more about their former state-owned telecom companies than about the benefits for citizens.”
The charges will be reviewed every two years with new caps being imposed if necassary. The first report is due out at the end of 2019.