Thursday, 5 March 2015

Mobile telephony roaming charges persist

Around this time last year, we were celebrating a big new deal for mobile phone users in the European Union area. The European Commission had proposed and the European Parliament had agreed to an end to the telecoms companies' little earner whereby you are charged extra fees for using your phone in another EU country. (Note that, while Conservatives largely abstained, this was one occasion when UKIP MEPs actually turned up - in order to vote against.)

The charges should have ended in December this year. However, in a reminder that ultimate power in the EU is not in the hands of the Commission or the Parliament but of the Council of Ministers, David Cameron - or his proxy - and his fellow EU ministers yesterday decided to postpone the cuts virtually indefinitely. Instead, there will be another consultation in mid-2018.

One is reminded of the Cameron/Merkel deal to weaken EU vehicle emissions regulations. Again, the beneficiaries are large commercial corporations. Again, the Downing Street spin machine, normally so noisy on EU developments, has been strangely quiet. What most disappoints me is that no MP raised the matter at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday or Business Questions today, given that I calculate that the next Prime Ministerial Statement on the European Council is not due until after the general election.

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