Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-10-24-Speech-2-261"

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". I am grateful to the honourable Member for asking the question. This gives me the opportunity to give an answer which I know is very important to Parliament, because Parliament has given much prominence to the topic of international roaming in recent years. As you know, for citizens there are two problems: first, the high prices they have to pay for crossing the borders; and then the problem of inadvertent roaming on a foreign network when they have not yet crossed the border but are living in a border area. In competitive markets one expects to see convergence of prices and costs, but when it comes to roaming there has been for many years now no evidence of a real relationship between prices and underlying costs. This point was also made very clearly in the impact assessment which accompanied the regulation which I have put on the table. The question is very simple. Why should a French customer who just crosses the border to Italy and makes a local call be charged from 50 cents to over EUR 1 per minute, when an Italian customer who is doing exactly the same will be charged between 10 and 13 cents per minute? All right, there are some additional costs if you take your phone into a neighbouring country, but there is very little justification for such high differences in price. In every other area of telecoms – fixed and broadband – European consumers are seeing significant improvements in price, choice and quality; only for international roaming has this not been the case. There are millions of citizens who have been very frustrated at these high prices for many years. We estimate that there are roughly 99 million European citizens living in regions located within 50 km of the borders and 11 million citizens within 5 km of the borders. They are those most affected by the extraordinarily high roaming prices. The regulation I have proposed, which is under discussion in Parliament and the Council, proposes substantial reductions in the roaming charges for all Europeans, consumers and business travellers. It is clear that when that is put in place, those living and roaming in internal border regions will be among the biggest beneficiaries of the regulation. From a technical point of view, because of the nature of mobile networks, consumers who live in such areas will have to pay some roaming charges, but there will be guarantees, if the regulation is passed, that the prices will be far more reasonable than they are today. There is also the question of inadvertent roaming, which is a possibility wherever mobile services are available and national borders exist. That is also why it is very important for those people that the charges will be closer to the cost. I very often criticise the operators for charging high prices. On the other hand, I must also say that when operators make the right moves in the right direction, I have to give credit where it is due. I am pleased to note, for example, that operators in Ireland and the United Kingdom have started to offer all-island rates. That means, for instance, that citizens in Ireland and in Northern Ireland now pay only one single rate, irrespective of where they are. That is a good example of best practice. I would like to see such initiatives encouraged and followed in other areas across Europe."@en1

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