European Parliament proposes amendments to roaming regulations

Since June 2017, Europeans have been able to use their mobile phone services in other EU and EEA countries at the same price as in their home countries. This has been possible thanks to an EU Regulation, which is due to expire on 30 June 2022.

Efforts are now underway to reform the regulation, and the European Parliament’s proposals differ from the views of the European Commission and Council.

In October, the European Parliament issued a mandate for negotiations, recommending numerous amendments to the Commission’s proposal. The Parliament is proposing changes in areas such as the wholesale prices of data, fair use policies, and provisions concerning the sustainability mechanism, as well as statutes governing international calls and texts messages within the EU. These changes to international calls are not mentioned in the European Commission’s proposal or the European Council’s mandate for negotiation.

The Parliament proposed significantly lower wholesale prices for data use than the European Commission and Council. Lower wholesale prices are clearly beneficial to consumers and provide telecoms companies with the opportunity to offer customers pricing models for unlimited data use.

In order to ensure that roaming services are not abused, the regulations specify limits on the fair use of mobile communication services abroad. This fair use policy should not be restricted or eliminated because the data packages in Finland are mainly ones that allow customers to use an unlimited amount of data. This should also be taken into consideration in legislation.

In the future, these provisions should not limit the opportunities for telecoms operators to make commercially viable roaming agreements by, for example, forcing them to make agreements with operators that meet a certain quality standard.

The European Parliament further proposes price regulation for international calls within the EU, even though the current regulation has only been in effect for just over two years. There is no need for additional regulation. The number of international calls is declining, and it is already common to make calls over the internet. There is no reason to impose stringent price regulation on a contracting and competitive market, thereby interfering in the fundamental rights of business owners.

According to the proposal, the roaming legislation will be extended until 2032. In matters concerning technological development, ten years is a very long time for a regulation to be in force. The matter will need to be reviewed again in 2025.

The proposal was followed by trilogue negotiations in the EU, where the European Parliament, Council and Commission meet to reconcile their viewpoints.

Marko Lahtinen, Legal Affairs Manager, FiCom