EU Votes To End Roaming Charges In 2014

European Commission heeds Neelie Kroes’ plea to ban mobile roaming charges

Travel within the European Union will incur no roaming charges  from 2014, thanks to a vote by the European Commission.

Europe’s 27 commissioners followed a recommendation from vice president Neelie Kroes, and voted last week to abolish roaming charges in Europe, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. The ruling will come into effect on 1 July 2014.

mobile phone roaming charge europe SIM card © anaken2012 Shutterstock

Decline of the roaming empire

The move is part of a bid to break down barriers, and unlock mobility and digital culture in Europe, which Kroes had called for in a speech given last month. For years, mobile operators have been criticised for charging very high fees for international calls, which cost no more to provide than national calls.

Previous efforts to abolish roaming charges have failed, such as in February, when European MPs bowed to industry pressure and voted for a cut in charges instead of outright abolition.

“It will be good for Europe,” Kroes said last month of the whole package, which also includes a guarantee of net neutrality. “Good for the economy, yes – growth stimulated by breaking down barriers.”

In the next few weeks, officials will draw up detailed plans to abolish European roaming charges. This is expected to take two percent off mobile operators’ revenues, but Brussels predicts that the phone companies will gain in the long term, as their customers will feel free to use their phones abroad, instead of being terrified of incurring huge and unexpected charges.

In the longer term, however, the move is expected to result in further consolidation – although this process is already well under way, at least in the UK. The UK’s O2 is owned by Telefonica, and EE is owned jointly by Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom.

Europe as a whole has about 100 operators, which the EC fears is producing unreliable connections and extra charges to users.

Who are Britain’s mobile operators? Try our quiz!