Fourteen months after the EU Brussels summit when lawmakers expressed alarm on the issue of exorbitant international roaming rates in Europe, members of the European Parliament (EP), European Commission (EC) and European Council Presidency (ECP) have reached a preliminary agreement on the a proposed EU Regulation on Roaming. EU leaders at the Brussels summit decided that regulation was needed to force a reduction in these charges, which have resulted in European mobile phone users paying an average of four times as much for an international call as they do for a domestic call.
After numerous meetings and requests for public input, the EP, EC and ECP have reached a tentative agreement on a compromise package for the Regulation, which will be presented to the EU Telecom Ministers for ratification in their meeting in mid-June, 2007. This package includes: (a) caps on roaming charges of 49 eurocents per minute for roaming calls made and 24 eurocents for calls received for the first year, with further reductions in the following two years; (b) a sunset clause witch ends the Regulation after three years, or sooner, at the EC’s discretion; (c) wholesale tariffs (rates mobile carriers charge each other to transmit calls on their networks) of 30 eurocents per minute in the first year, 28 eurocents in the second year, and 26 eurocents in the third year; and (d) transparent pricing for consumers, which includes providing consumers with text messages in their mobile phones explaining the per-minute tariff charges as they cross EU borders. The European telecom industry is not happy about the package, and it is lobbying furiously to get the proposal watered down before its presentation to the Telecom Ministers. Lawmakers anticipate that the package will be ratified, as it represents, in the words of one prominent lawmaker, “a solid compromise, that, with a little goodwill, should become law.”