ALDE supports the upcoming legislation to lower the price of phone calls between EU Member States.

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After abolishing roaming costs in 2017, the European Parliament is ready to take onto the next step: cheaper phone calls to other EU Countries. Long-distance intra-EU phone calls should cost about 19 eurocents and SMSs 6 eurocents, according to the agreement reached last night.

Users of intra-EU communications services face prices that are often considerably higher than domestic tariffs without any justifiable reason for such difference. While higher volume users might identify and avail of alternative offers from their number-based interpersonal communications service provider, lower volume users are often subject to excessive and discriminatory charges for intra-EU communications services.

ALDE Group defended strong consumer protection rules and the ban of unjustified price differences between domestic and European calls. EU communications companies should justify when they charge additional fees to users calling from mobiles or landlines to another EU Member State.

MEP Dita Charanzová, IMCO rapporteur behind these reforms said:

“Cheaper phone calls are a victory for all EU citizens. We want an EU where country codes are obsolete, where we can call or text anyone in Europe without having to think about how much it is going to cost and I think we have finally achieved this. Just as we have torn down Europe’s physical borders, we must also tear down borders to communication; for the good of the Single Market and for the good of consumers. I am proud of our actions, which will bring concrete results for our citizens. I hope to this a first step towards an EU where domestic and international calls will cost the same.”

There was also agreement on the introduction into every Member States of Mobile Public Warming Systems (the so-called ‘Reverse 112’ system). In the case of a terrorist attack or other emergency, all mobile phones within the concern area would receive an alert message. This should help saves lives and ensure that everyone is informed how to stay safe.

On ‘Reverse 112’, MEP Charanzová added: “Recent terrorist attacks have shown that information can save lives. Our citizens need to get clear and correct information as quickly as possible. I am happy to see that EU Governments agreed with the proposal of the Parliament to have a ‘Reverse 112’ system in place in every Member State. Today, we have ensured that Europe will be safer in the future. The Parliament also achieved many other measures for consumers, from compensation if something goes wrong when switching providers to greater protections for persons with disabilities, to guaranteed access to affordable internet for all. We made sure that consumers will win from this legislation.”

After an encouraging agreement reached in March on radio spectrum allowing availability for spectrum for 5G by 2020, we will have better predictability for licences, therefore investments and better coordination at EU level. A deal was confirmed last night on the access of the EECC part. Some improvements were found, especially in regulations relief for operators that co-invest in new broadband networks and increase, EU harmonisation in case of market dysfunctionalities. The deal is an important step in that direction but National regulators and Commission need to keep an eye on further developments.

MEP Kaja Kallas, ALDE shadow rapporteur for the ITRE Committee said:

We are entering a new era with cloud computing, big data, data-driven science, robotics, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. For this we need unified clear rules for the EU telecoms market, and our access rules need to enhance competition.”

This piece of legislation will apply from May 2019.

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