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Fall of the roaming empire: EU scraps mobile travel fees

Updated Jun 16, 2017 10:11am

BRUSSELS: The EU rang in the end of roaming charges for Europeans using mobile phones within the 28-nation bloc on Thursday in what under-pressure Brussels hailed as one of its greatest successes.

A decade in the making, the move comes in time for the summer holidays when millions of Europeans will be on the move, and is a public relations coup at a time when the bloc is under fire over Brexit and other problems.

It means Europeans calling, texting or using the internet when travelling in other EU nations will be charged the same as they are at home, instead of grossly inflated prices.

“The European Union is about bringing people together and making their lives easier. The end of roaming charges is a true European success story,” European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and European Parliament head Antonio Tajani said in a statement.

“From now on, citizens who travel within the EU will be able to call, text and connect on their mobile devices at the same price as they pay at home.

Eliminating roaming charges is one of the greatest and most tangible successes of the EU.”

‘WELL PLAYED EU’: It remains to be seen whether Britons will continue to enjoy same-cost mobile calls and data downloads in Europe after Britain’s departure from the EU, negotiations for which are due to start next week.

That question has seen the EU’s roaming success win support from some unusual quarters across the Channel.

“Well played EU,” tweeted Gary Lineker, the former England football captain and now a host on BBC television.

Another ex-footballer-turned media pundit, Stan Collymore, said on Twitter: “Roaming charges abolished today in the EU, so you won’t pay a penny extra over your UK phone tariff when in the EU! Until Brexit. Enjoy!” The existence of roaming charges — an important source of revenue for telecoms companies — was long seen as a “market failure” by Brussels.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2017