Juncker pulls controversial plan for limited 'abolition' EU roaming charges

Following a backlash at the news that there would be strict limits on fee-free roaming...

Juncker pulls controversial plan for limited 'abolition' EU roaming charges

Jean-Claude Juncker speaking in Dublin back in March | Image: European Union

The European Commission's draft blueprint – hailed as an end to additional charges for EU citizens when they cross national borders inside the bloc – has been withdrawn on the orders of commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker.

The plan had been due to come into force from June 15th next year. Under it, the abolition of fees would only have applied for periods under 30 consecutive days.

Free roaming would also only have been available for a total of 90 days in any one year.

The 'fair use' clarification from Brussels stated that operators would be permitted to charge top-up fees of 4c per minute, 1c per SMS and 0.85c per megabyte of data in some circumstances.

The stipulations brought about a backlash by consumer groups earlier this week.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Juncker's spokesman Margaritis Schinas insisted the proposals amounted to an end to higher bills.

He said: "Let me be very clear, we have put an end to roaming.

"Roaming means travelling, means moving around the European Union, going on holiday. The Europeans who travel do so on an average of 12 days per year.

"The commission, with our guidelines, have gone much further by abolishing roaming charges for at least 90 days per year."

The EU first announced its intentions in early 2015 – with the measure seen as the first step towards a single telecoms market.

Opposition came principally from mobile phone providers, who currently enjoy lucrative extra income from charging customers more for data and calls when abroad.

While there have already been reductions in roaming tariffs imposed through EU caps, the new rules were not expected to be imposed until next June.

It was unclear when the commission planned to deliver a new draft or whether the timetable for free roaming had drifted.

A statement on its Digital Single Market webpage said:

"The Commission services have, on the instruction of President Juncker, withdrawn the draft and are working on a new version."