Saj backs EU-wide end to Roaming Charges in face of Council Opposition

Saj and his Conservative colleagues continue to back plans for the EU-wide scrapping of mobile phone roaming charges.

The plans, overwhelmingly approved by the European Parliament in April 2014, would bring an end to roaming charges for calls, messages and data within the EU by December 2015.

The legislation, as part of wide-ranging telecoms reforms, would mean the cost of making a call or downloading internet data in another EU country will be the same as at home – saving North West constituents and businesses millions each year.

However, these plans have recently been put in jeopardy after the European Council – the committee of permanent member state representatives to the EU – approved a version of the legislation that scraps the planned total abolition, instead substituting it for a review in 2018.

The reason for the opposition, mainly from southern European states, is due to the large benefits reaped from companies charging higher rates to tourists. Therefore many on the Council are not supporting the abolition of roaming charges to avoid side-effects on some national markets and instead believe a cautious and consistent approach is best.

The majority of MEPs believe that the European Council is contradicting the wishes of the European people.

Speaking from Brussels, Saj said:

“I see a move developing among MEPs to make this an inter-institutional stand-off.

“Such a contradiction to the wishes of the Parliament and of the people has caused great unrest amongst MEPs, including myself.

“Any legislation that does not end roaming charges does not reflect the significance, ambition and urgency that the European Council gave to the single European telecoms market in October 2013.

“I hope a positive resolution can be found to this stand-off as this legislation will not only lower costs for holiday-makers, but benefit businesses by providing further incentives to do business and seek new markets in Europe.”

Negotiations on this draft legislation are set to convene between the Council, Parliament and Commission, as soon as possible.