European Telecommunications Ministers are set to give the final all-clear tomorrow to the long-awaited ‘Proposal for a Regulation on roaming on public mobile networks within the Community’, better known as the regulation which slashes mobile roaming rates all over Europe.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER, www.aer.eu) welcomes this important step, but it considers it only as the first steptowards a real integrated European market in the telecommunications sector.
Consumer interests are at the heart of the regions’ mission, and we believe that -especially for the citizens living in cross-border regions- further progress is absolutely necessary and must be achieved.
Millions of people in Europe pay higher fees for their daily commuting between neighbouring countries, only because they live close to the border. This, in today’s European Union, is simply not acceptable!
That’s why the Assembly of European Regions asks:
a) for a complete scrapping of the current roaming system: in the medium-/long-term we need to have a ‘common space’ for mobile phones all over Europe. Other European States must cease to be considered as ‘foreign countries’.
In mobile phones tariff terms, the calls to another EU country have to be considered as ‘internal calls’. Some mobile companies are already moving towards such a system, through ‘ad hoc’ offers and packages. This proves that it is feasible.
b) for a common integrated market in the mobile phones communication system. Consumers must be free to subscribe to contracts with foreign mobile companies, even if they don’t have a bank account in the country where the mobile operator is based. As a practical example, a citizen living in Strasbourg (F) should be free to get a contract with a German mobile company, if he/she works or travels to Kehl (DE).
c) for a ‘green zone’ area along national borders, where commuters, tourists and people moving across boundaries can keep their country mobile operator, without being forced to switch to foreign providers and pay more money.
We suggest that this area should at least extend for 20 kilometres inside national borders, so that customers can know exactly until which point they can keep their national provider and thus pay their national tariff. We consider this measure as a temporary one, in view of the complete scrapping of roaming inside the EU (see point ‘a’).
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