What your Tory and UKIP MEPs do for you (1): press for more expensive phone charges

Liberal Democrat MEPs have spent years at the forefront of plans to cut the cost of using your mobile phone while travelling in the EU.

There is a crucial vote coming up on 27 February where a plan to abolish fees for incoming calls this year and data roaming fees by 2016 is being discussed. This isn’t quite fast enough for Liberal Democrat MEPs who have put down an amendment bringing it forward to the start of the Summer holidays in 2015:

With effect from 1 July 2015, roaming providers shall not levy any surcharge in comparison to the charges for mobile communications services at domestic level on roaming customers for any regulated roaming call made or received, for any regulated roaming SMS message sent, for any roaming MMS message sent or for any regulated data roaming services used or any general charge to enable the terminal equipment or service to be used abroad.

Tory MEP Giles Chichester, however, wants to scrap the proposed changes altogether, a bit of a slap in the face for any of his constituents who happen to be travelling to Europe for work or play.

A Conservative acting in the interests of big business? There’s a surprise.

Liberal Democrat group leader Fiona Hall said:

It’s not exactly surprising that Conservative MEPs are putting the interests of big business ahead of consumers. But scrapping roaming fees is something that even David Cameron has said he supports.

This is another example of the Tories being completely divided on Europe and failing to deliver reform. Liberal Democrats are determined end rip-off roaming charges in the EU and ensure that mobile phone companies bring their business models into line with the digital era.

A roaming-free Europe will not only be good news for holidaymakers. With trade moving increasingly online, it will bring huge economic benefits including for the UK’s thriving e-commerce sector.


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  • (1): press for more expensive phone charges ? Lets dissect this a little more.
    The mobile phone companies won’t simply absorb the extra costs, of a cut in roaming charges. They will inevitably, pass those costs on to all their customers. So in effect we will all pay higher bills to subsidise the mobile phone usage of a minority of roaming customers. The logic thus follows that, the EU decision to cut mobile phone charges abroad, will lead to higher tariffs at home.
    Now that point may be arguable, but it is surely, more grounded in reality, than the shrill article headline.?

  • This is definitely an issue for candidates to highlight in the upcoming EP elections.

    First up, it puts the Conservatives on the back-foot. Secondly and this should be hammered home, UKIP & many Tories’ policies of “Exit now” would mean consumers would lose as mobile operators could and would almost certainly set their roaming tariffs at rates above the current EU maximum levels. Price reductions in roaming have NOT been led by the “free market” competition between mobile operators nor by domestic legislation but rather by EU level legislation.

    “UKIP want to raise your phone bill” might be a crude slogan but it reflects reality.

  • There is more to this than it may at first seem. From July 2014, the market is supposed to be opening up to enable the entry of new MVNO’s (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) who provide pan-EU roaming services over the existing MNO’s (Mobile Network Operators) networks. The idea is that users will be able to use both a domestic MNO and potentially a different Roaming MVNO.

    So the effective abolition of roaming charges could adversely impact this new market before it has even got off the ground. Thanks LDV for reminding and warning me that the new pan-EU mobile telecoms regulations are still up for discussion!

  • Michael Ingle 7th Feb '14 - 8:12am

    It is clear that more needs to be done to reduce roaming charges. If it is true that phone companies incur extra costs in providing call and data facilities to customers travelling outside their home country, then let them show us their costs. I suspect however that the extra charges they impose are far higher than needed to cover any extra costs. I spend about one quarter of my time in France, and I make very little use of my UK mobile phone when I am there. I use my phone constantly when in the UK, but I have been totally put off by the roaming charges when abroad. It is a bit like time travel, going to France and not using my mobile phone there as if it were still 1990, but surely the phone companies are missing out on revenues they might generate if their charges were more reasonable?

  • Steven Raison 7th Feb '14 - 8:28am

    Best to check settings before go outside UK. Turn off Voicemail etc to stop being charged for incoming calls. Have got duel sim handset. Can purchase Pay and Go sim for country in to make calls back to UK may be cheaper than paying roaming charge

  • Steven Raison 7th Feb '14 - 8:30am

    Thats my Martin Lewis bit Done!

  • @Steven Raison
    Forgot the most important setting: Turn off mobile data services. 🙂

  • Steven Raison 7th Feb '14 - 12:57pm

    Ok Data off.

  • shame on eu they should have abolish charges back in 2008 now theyhave made eu more vulnerable offcourse nobody like to use mobile with these charges except these tories

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