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Science

Mobile roaming charges within EU should end, official says

European Union residents have long complained about exorbitant fees on their cell phone bills while roaming in other EU countries. Now the EU's digital agenda commissioner says she will propose banning them.

Neelie Kroes

Kroes spoke at a conference in Brussels

European Union roaming charges are an "outdated concept" and should be abolished by law, EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a speech on Thursday.

"I will assess the structural, economic and legal barriers to such a true single market and I am not afraid to propose the necessary measures to overcome these," Kroes said.

Speaking at the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO) conference in Brussels, she added that the 27-member bloc should be considered as a single economic market.

As such, the EU should order that prices of mobile voice, text and data services be based on the true cost of providing those services, she said, rather than allowing mobile operators to tack on exorbitant fees when crossing national borders within the EU.

Greek European Parliament member Katerina Batzeli voted on the mobile regulatory measure in 2007 with a phone in hand

The European Parliament capped fees in 2008

Previous regulation upheld

Three years ago, her predecessor, Viviane Reding, proposed caps on these roaming fees, which were then adopted by the European Parliament in 2008 and lowered further earlier this year.

"We will not be proposing another barrier, and nor will we propose endless tweaking of the current price capping arrangement without adding anything new," Kroes added. "I want the gap between roaming and domestic prices to approach zero."

In June, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg upheld the EU's right to impose price caps on roaming charges.

In a ruling against four UK mobile operators, the court noted in a statement at the time that the "object of the regulation is indeed to improve the conditions for the functioning of the internal market."

Author: Cyrus Farivar (Reuters)
Editor: Andrew Bowen

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