By Florence Guthfreund-Roland & Mathilde Hallé
After months of discussions, it is likely that the new so-called “Telecom Package”, expected to come into effect in 2015, will indeed prohibit telecom operators from charging customers additional fees for intra-EU roaming.
In accordance with the “Europe 2020” digital strategy promoted by the European Commission, the European Parliament believes that fragmentation of the European electronic communications market (i.e., the significant number of operators existing in the region) should not prejudice customers traveling within the European Union.
To meet this goal, and thus offer further protection to EU customers, the Legislative Resolution of the European Parliament dated April 3rd, 2014 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent (amending Directives 2002/20/EC, 2002/21/EC, 2002/22/EC, and Regulations (EC) No 1211/2009 and (EU) No 531/2012) expressly recommends and provides that users of mobile communications services shall be entitled to roam with no additional charge, provided such roaming is within the European Union. The Resolution expressly mentions that this rule should apply to incoming and outgoing calls, outgoing SMS/MMS messages, and data services. As an exception to soften the potential effects of this rule in terms of traffic management, it also recommends that operators be entitled to implement usage restrictions in cases of excessive or unusual roaming. In short, international roaming would not be subject to additional charges within the EU, subject to fair use by the customer.
It should be noted that roaming tariffs are already regulated at the EU level. Indeed, since 2012, roaming tariffs have dramatically decreased each year, in accordance with Regulation No 531/2012 dated June 13, 2012 on roaming on public mobile communications networks within the EU. As of July 1st, 2014, roaming tariffs applicable to EU users have since decreased by up to 30%.
Should the Regulation be adopted as is by the European Council, its provisions would have to be implemented as from December 15, 2015. To anticipate its impact on wholesale markets, the Commission will reportedly publish additional regulations and/or guidance on wholesale tariffs by June 2015.
To read the Legislative Resolution of the European Parliament dated April 3rd, 2014, please click on the following link: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P7-TA-2014-0281+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN. To read the Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of June 13, 2012 on roaming on public mobile communications networks within the Union, please click on the following link: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:172:0010:0035:EN:PDF.