4th October 2015

Council officially approves end of roaming charges and net neutrality

Regulation bringing about the end of roaming charges for intra-EU calls, texts and data as of June 2017, as well as provisions for net neutrality, was formally adopted by ministers in charge of competitiveness at their meeting on 1 October in Brussels. The adopted wording was negotiated by the representatives of the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament at the very end of the Latvian Presidency in late June. The European Parliament debated the issue last year and adopted its position at first reading of the legislative procedure before the European Parliament elections in May 2014. Informal negotiations followed and, brokered by the outgoing Latvian presidency, a compromise was forged. As of 15 June 2015, there will be no roaming surcharges inside the EU – consumers will pay the exact same rates outside their home member state, as inside. However, there will be a fair use policy provision. Roaming usage should correspond to normal periodic and short-term stays in other member states – in other words, “permanent roaming” will not be covered by the no-surcharge regime. As of April 2016, the roaming prices will be lowered for the last time and their philosophy will be altered. Today, there is an exact price for every call, SMS and MB of data in roaming. In half a year, the roaming price will be calculated based on the home rate of the operator – the consumer will pay his home rate, plus a certain surcharge. Anyway, the final price will be considerably lower than today´s level. The Single Telecoms Market regulation, as it was adopted by the Council, also includes provisions on net neutrality. Other aspects of the very ambitious original Commission proposal were omitted.

The last step in the procedure will be European Parliament´s final approval. The situation today is such, that, formally, the EP adopted its version and the Council a different one (albeit pre-negotiated with the EP) at first reading. The EP will therefore start the second reading, apparently approving the Council´s position. Both co-legislators will have thus adopted the same wording and the regulation will become law 3 days upon its publication in EU´s Official Journal. EP´s final approval is expected at its end-October plenary and the entry into force of the regulation should take place in November.

For more, click here and here.

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic