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Greece and Bulgaria against the abolition of roaming in the European Union

03 June 2015 / 17:06:31  GRReporter
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The intention of the European Union (EU) to abolish roaming for its citizens travelling across the continent is facing a significant opposition from some member states. According to EU representatives, these countries thus support their national mobile operators. Sources indicate that Greece and Cyprus are two of the countries that are delaying the abolition of roaming, the reason for this being tourism.

The European Commission had launched an ambitious reform of the telecommunications market in the EU in 2013 and set up a "roadmap" for abolishing the charges for calls to other European countries.

Almost two years later, however, the deadline for the cancellation of roaming, namely December 2015, is beyond any discussion.

The representatives of the member states in the European Council have shifted the date to mid-December 2018 and they are now trying to reach consensus with MEPs who insist on abolishing roaming charges by the end of next year.

The third round of negotiations on this issue took place on Tuesday but was unsuccessful. According to the two EU sources, the expectations had been low anyway because of the significant differences in the positions of both sides.

The delay in cancelling the specific charges has provoked reactions from the European Commission, the European Parliament and consumer rights organizations according to which some member states are protecting the interests of their national mobile operators.

"Now it is up to the member states if they want to be the lawyer for the citizens and consumers or for the telecom companies," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stated in an interview with the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Monday.

The interests of telecommunications companies of the 28 member states are not identical. Eastern European countries, where communications prices are lower, are concerned that mobile operators will be forced to increase them if roaming charges are prematurely removed. This is because the companies pay wholesale charges to other operators when their customers travel abroad.

On the other hand, they are an incentive for countries with large influxes of tourists such as Spain and Greece to keep wholesale charges high, although, for different reasons, the result is the same.

"Yes, there are problems such as wholesale costs between mobile operators, but neither they nor the interests of Southern European countries, which relate to tourism, can excuse inaction," said Ursula Pachl, deputy director general of the European consumer organization BEUC.

The member states and the European Parliament agree that a change in wholesale roaming charges is necessary but the former insist that it should happen before the abolition of retail charges.

According to EU sources, the countries that are blocking the setting of a date for the abolition of roaming charges before wholesale charges include France, Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland and Lithuania.


Tags: PoliticsTechnologiesAbolishing roaming charges in the EU
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