Today, the European Parliament backed a deal reached with the EU Council for a new Electronic Communications Code. The aim is to update the existing legislation to adapt to new technologies in a rapidly changing environment, so that both EU companies and citizens can benefit the most. It ensures the swift roll-out of 5G, and stronger consumer protection.
One of the proposals pushed by the S&D Group is to cap the rate of phone calls made from one EU member state to another, as a further step to implement the single market.
Marlene Mizzi MEP, the S&D negotiator on behalf of the internal market parliamentary committee, said:
“From now on, Europeans can also make calls to other member states at a maximum price of 19 cents per minute, thanks to a provision obtained by the S&D Group. They will also be able to send an SMS for 6 cents. The new rules will give enough flexibility to the market and to the operators, while ensuring benefits for both consumers and businesses in the communications sector.
“Digitalisation has brought rapid change to our industries and societies, and we need to adapt our European landscape for digital infrastructure, governance and services in order to keep us on top of the competition. This is why it is urgent to create a single telecoms market for all consumers. We started with roaming and we now move on to other important areas, such as intra-EU calls.
“The directive and regulation adopted today will also improve consumers’ rights, the rights of people with disabilities and ensures that basic and affordable internet is a universal right that must be guaranteed to all EU citizens.
“Last but not least, we pushed for a special emergency alert system, known as the reverse 112 system, through which member states will be able to warn and alert those citizens who find themselves in the vicinity of a danger zone, such as a terrorist attack or natural catastrophe.”
Miapetra Kumpula-Natri MEP, the S&D negotiator on behalf of the industry committee in the Parliament, said:
“The end of roaming charges was one of the biggest achievements of the EU, pursued for many years by our political group. Since last year, citizens can call home or use the internet with no extra charges when they are travelling around the EU. It is now time to also bring down borders when it comes to making a phone call to another EU member state. We are demanding reasonable prices when a person from Finland wants to call a friend in Belgium.”
“This regulation will provide the way for Europe to move into the Gigabit society and 5G-era. We need many more fibre-optic cable connections in Europe if we want to be successful with new innovations. Together with funding programmes such as InvestEU and the Digital Europe Programme, the Code will deliver investment, growth and jobs as well, and maintain EU leadership in digital technologies with very high capacity networks.
“However, as S&Ds we insisted that attracting investment should not come at the expense of limiting consumer choice and driving up prices. We resisted the pressure from the telecom industry and avoided any regulatory holidays to avoid competition (for innovative investments). Thanks to the European Parliament there will also be rules and new tools for regulators to tackle oligopolistic markets.”