Plan to end data roaming charges withdrawn after backlash over 90-day limit

Hopes of free mobile phone roaming across Europe have been thrown into doubt after a plan was pulled days after its launch. The idea was contained in a much-trumpeted European Commission blueprint, which was hailed as the end of additional charges to use a phone abroad but was withdrawn on Friday by commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Now, officials are working on a new draft to address complaints that it had only allowed for up to 90 days’ free roaming. The commission remained bullish, saying: “As we have promised, roaming charges will disappear. Nothing changes there.”

In light of the initial feedback received, president Juncker has instructed the services to withdraw that text and to work on a new proposal

EC statement

The commission has already imposed caps on roaming charges and had been working to bring an end to them since last year. Initially, it had run into opposition from telecoms companies, who feared a loss of lucrative income. But when the plan was released on Wednesday, the 90-day “fair use” limit sparked a rush of complaints from mobile users who said the EC had caved in to big business. The EC insisted most Europeans only spent an average of 12 days a year abroad. After the latest retreat, commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein insisted it was a formality and the overall roaming plan was a “major success”.

We are fighting for the end of roaming fees for consumers in 2017 and not for solutions with backdoors. This is what we have promised to the people and we keep this promise

Manfred Weber, head of the European People’s Party