Roaming charges for EU mobile phone users reach the end of the line

Mobile phone customers in the European Union no longer need to pay extra charges when they leave their country, as new EU rules come into effect. But critics say German and Spanish lobbyists have watered down the rules.

It’s been called a victory for the European Union – a sign that Brussels can protect its citizens from exploitation by telecommunications companies. After all, the world needed multinational legislation to counter the power of multinational corporations.

However, lobby observers say that those corporations, particularly from Germany and Spain, have worked to water down the new rules.

A decade of compromises, delays, negotiations and re-negotiations, mobile roaming charges were abolished across the bloc on Thursday, meaning EU-based phone users now pay the same for cellphone calls, texts, using the internet and downloads when they travel to another EU country as they do at home.

It’s supposed to be a new dawn for consumer rights. Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper, for instance, was effusive on Tuesday, calling the new deal a “triumph for the EU, not only over the interests of mobile phone companies. The decision shows that Europe can change the everyday lives of people for the better. Five hundred million consumers will profit.”

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(Photo: Everson Silva/