EU loosens free mobile roaming rules

The Commission has cut controversial terms and conditions...

After a series of U-turns, the European Commission has decided that EU citizens will be able to use their phones abroad without paying extra charges.

This comes after a public-backlash against plans to limit mobile customers to 90 days of travel without fees.

These rules will come into effect in June 2017.

Its 90 day limit was part of the scheme's fair usage policy, but it angered businesses and consumers. The new rules will put no limits on usage, the EU has proposed alternative safeguards to make sure that the policy is not abused.

Customers will be subject to residency requirements, excessive time spent in a foreign country will result in telecom company investigating whether users are permanent residents in the country - rather than visitors. In these cases there will be grounds to levy surcharges, although those rates are to be decided.

Officials argue that this will stop individuals buying sim cards from regions where charges are cheaper - while living in a different country. European comparisons have constantly highlighted Ireland as one of countries with the highest telecom charges.

Günther H Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society commented on the announcement:

"Commission action on roaming prices has delivered for European consumers ... Today's draft rules ensure we can end roaming charges as of June 2017 for all people who travel periodically in the EU, while ensuring that operators have the tools to guard against abuse of the rules."