Affordable EU roaming charges are not guaranteed, yet

Affordable EU roaming charges are not guaranteed, yet

European Union lawmakers are clashing again over what the bloc considers one of the biggest consumer rights victories in history- the ability for consumers to call, text, and stream without paying extra costs while traveling within the EU.

A 2017 deal on data roaming was called one of the greatest and most tangible successes within the bloc, demonstrating to all citizens that the EU worked for them- even as the fear of populism grew, Britain made its messy exit and hostility toward the bloc’s admin class increased.

The deal was finalized after 13 years of political bargaining that put EU officials in the ring with national capitals (who had to fight at the behest of telecom giants).

Unfinished work

To call the 2017 agreement a done deal would not be accurate. The lawmakers who worked on it did not finish it.

The regulation they came up with was designed to let roaming rights expire by June 30, 2022, which prompted the Commission to propose an extension of the rules for another decade earlier this year in February.

Today, negotiators of the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament meet to work out the final details to extend the rules, as the clock on the 2017 deal runs out.

Obstacles to overcome

There are some major obstacles the officials have to overcome. For instance, they have to come up with the maximum amount telecoms can charge each other for using each other’s networks abroad (wholesale price caps) and the price of calls EU citizens make to telephone numbers within the bloc (intra-EU calls).

As well-meaning officials call for cutting the cost of intra-EU calls (which still give citizens of the bloc bill scares), telecoms say they would lose about 2 billion euros in the coming four years, at a time when the sector is strapped for cash, having invested in a costly 5G rollout.

Now, the officials figure out how to walk the line.