According to a Latvian Presidency document, a new proposal to resolve the deadlock in the roaming issue is coming up. The abolition of intra-EU roaming, as part of the telecoms single market, is a priority for the EC. The original proposal, overly ambitious in some ways, proposed to abolish intra-EU roaming by the end of 2016. Last year, the European Parliament watered down the original EC proposal somewhat, but adopted a more ambitious goal – to end roaming by the end of this year. Since then, however, the issue has been debated in the Council. Several Member States raised concerns about quick roaming abolition, fearing rise of telecom fees for consumers. Several proposals tabled by the Italian presidency failed to find support. Now, according to a document of the Latvian presidency, a new approach is to be employed. The Latvian presidency proposes to demand EU operators to offer a “basic roaming allowance” to consumers. Up to a certain amount of minutes, SMS and data, the consumers would pay home rates. However, this basic allowance would not seek to replicate standard home usage, nor have an anti-abuse rationale. Beyond the allowance, the operators would be allowed to charge a rate superior to the currently-in-effect wholesale rate. This would help solve one of the problems in the roaming-abolition debate – operators charge each other for their clients´ roaming usage and if roaming surcharge for consumers was abolished, operators with cheap home services would probably need to reconsider their prices. The proposals therefore asks the Commission to review the wholesale market and eventually come up with a regulation of wholesale prices, which would allow complete abolition of roaming surcharges. Such review is to be carried out by mid-2018. This would mean that intra-EU roaming would not be completely abolished before then.
If ministers agree to the Latvian proposal, negotiations will start between the Council, the EP and the Commission on a final text.
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