MEPs want cheaper international calls within the EU and give governments the ability to issue general warnings using phones as part of a telecom reform.
Prices for phone calls have been falling steadily over the past two decades, but when it comes to phone calls to other EU countries they continue to be high. However, the situation might change as the Parliament is looking at plans to prevent fixed and mobile calls to other EU countries from being unreasonably more expensive than calls in your own country. The proposals were already backed by the industry committee on 2 October.
International phone calls can cost up to €1 per minute, which is is substantially more expensive than using your phone while abroad, so-called roaming charges. Last year MEPs asked the European Commission to look into the issue of unreasonably high charges for phone calls and text messages to other EU countries.
Parliament's industry committee wants to set up a communication system to enable local and national authorities to alert people by phone in case of natural disasters, terrorist attacks or other threats. It would act as a reverse of 112, the general emergency number which you can call from fixed and mobile phones in all EU countries to contact an ambulance, the fire brigade or the police.
These proposals are part of a broader telecoms reform aimed at stimulating investment in high-capacity networks across the EU, make better use of radio frequencies and boost confidentiality protection.
Spanish EPP member Pilar del Castillo, the MEP in charge of steering these plans through Parliament, said the new regulation would help to attract investment: “It is between €500 and €600 billion of investment and this must be practically all - at least 90% - private investment."
Czech ALDE member Dita Charanzová, who gave del Castillo feedback on behalf of the internal market committee, said: “The end of roaming was a great achievement, but we should not stop halfway. We have to correct the absurd situation where it is cheaper for you to call while roaming than when at home.”
MEPs will vote on Parliament’s position on the plans during an upcoming plenary vote. This will then serve as a mandate for negotiations with the Council to decide the final text of the legislation.