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MEPs seek cheaper intra-EU phone calls

MEPs seek cheaper intra-EU phone calls


(STRASBOURG) - Long-distance intra-EU calls should cost the same as calling within the same country, according to a draft law approved by a European Parliament committee on Monday.

MEPs on the Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy were voting an update of EU rules on telecoms. Its objective is to improve access to networks across the EU, including making 5G connections available to all citizens. The bill, still to be agreed with EU Ministers, also provides for measures to protect consumers.

EU communications companies should justify when they charge additional fees to users calling from mobiles or landlines to another EU member state, said the committee.

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) would set out guidelines on how service providers could recover the costs they incur in other ways.

A "reverse 112 system" has also been introduced by the MEPs, enabling national authorities to alert citizens in the event of imminent major emergencies and disasters, such as a terrorist attack or a natural catastrophe, using geo-localisation tools. The aim of this system is to reduce casualties by instructing people on what to do if they are in danger.

On the question of hacking, MEPs wanted the use of end-to-end encryption to be mandatory to protect the confidentiality of communications. Users should be informed of risks resulting from a security incident and possible protective measures or solutions that they can take.

The reform of EU telecoms markets aims to:

  • stimulate competition and reduce differences in practices among national antitrust bodies
  • encourage bigger and longer-term investments in network infrastructures
  • provide consumers with faster connections, including 5G

In addition, MEPs want licences for the radio spectrum for telecoms companies to last 25 years to incentivise investments. They should be subject to a review after at least 10 years, to ensure they are being used efficiently. MEPs also want reserve prices (i.e. price set for a bid) and licensing fees to reflect real market conditions.

Finally, companies providing electronic communications services in more than one member state will benefit from a home market regime, i.e. the same conditions as local companies.

The committee also voted on a separate draft legislation, though still part of the same package of proposals, for the establishment of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), with the objective of implementing electronic communications legislation consistently across the Union.

Informal negotiations with EU Ministers are expected to start promptly, once plenary has approved the negotiating mandate.

Further information, European Parliament

Procedure file - Telecom code

EP Briefing - Telecom code

Procedure file - BEREC

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