EC looking to ban roaming charges

Commission hopes to approve legislation outlawing out-of-country charges by next holiday season

The European Commission is debating a new law that would make it illegal for networks to charge roaming charges in Europe.

Details of the new law were revealed in a leak of draft legislation. The Commission has long sought to make roaming charges illegal. It has said on previous occasions that it feels they go against the free trade philosophy of the bloc.

The proposal was fronted by Neelie Kroes, a Commission vice-president responsible for digital affairs.

However, the proposal has attracted criticism from networks. Vodafone, Orange and Telefonica, who own the O2 network in the UK, have suggested the new law could cost them £5.9 billion a year.

Read more: 4G in the UK: the tech, the devices and the networks

The Commission has already made moves to cut roaming charges. Last year, it brought in new legislation that cut the cost of calling from abroad for millions of holiday makers.

Three has remained silent on the issue, instead preferring to drop roaming charges for a number of countries, including Austria, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden.

Roaming charges have traditionally been charged because holiday makers have had to connect to networks not owned by their provider.

Read more: Best smartphones to buy in 2013

Ironically, the operators kicking up the biggest are those that have the biggest pan-European networks and as such, have little excuse for charging roaming fees.

The Commission is hopeful that the law can be passed before the 2014 holiday season.

“We don’t give a running commentary on the proposals but we are committed to putting in place a method that pushes roaming out of the market,” a spokesman for Kroes told The Guardian.