New roaming rules set to be approved later this year will determine how much operators can charge mobile users when abroad. Over the coming months, MEPs will also debate how air passengers' data could be used to combat criminal offences and they will decide on rules about EU-wide patents that could improve the competitiveness of European businesses.
Lower roaming prices
Making a phone call, sending a text message or browsing the net on your mobile phone while abroad in the EU could get cheaper thanks to the new roaming rules in the pipeline. The Commission is proposing the following maximum charges from July 2014:
24 euro cents a minute for outgoing call
10 euro cents a minute for incoming calls
10 euro cents to send a text message
50 euro cent per megabyte for data download
However, German Christian Democrat Angelika Niebler, who is steering the legislation through the EP, thinks that maximum prices could be even lower. MEPs will vote on the new rules, including the right for mobile users to choose their roaming provider when abroad, in April.
Use of passenger name record (PNR) data
New legislation to be voted in May will clarify which authorities would have access to PNR data - information provided by passengers and collected by air carriers - and under what terms. The aim is to help combat organised crime.
Unitary patent to help businesses
Getting EU-wide patent protection is a costly and complicated affair requiring a patent to be validated in each EU country. Proposals for a unitary EU patent, due to be voted in February, would give patent protection in all 25 EU countries who have signed up to the proposal (Italy and Spain are not participating) and should foster innovation and boost competitiveness.
Seeking justice collectively
Also in February MEPs are set to decide on an own-initiative report proposing collective redress at a European level. It would allow victims of unlawful behaviour to bundle claims they would not otherwise pursue individually (for example because the cost of seeking individual redress might be disproportionate to the damage sustained), but should not allow abusive litigation.