The European Parliament's scheduled May 10 vote to approve the EU's plan to cap mobile phone roaming charges has been delayed until at least May 22.
If the Parliament votes at the end of May, national ministers could approve the measure at their June 7 meeting. A compromise would keep the European Commission's goal of having the cuts in place this summer on track.
The key points of the compromise would set a EUR0.45-per-minute limit on the retail price of making an international call within the E.U.
Parliamentarians offered ministers a three-month reprieve before the reduced roaming fees are automatically applied. This would mean that if customers neither apply for the new reduced fees nor tell their operators explicitly they want to keep their old roaming plans, they would automatically be switched to the new reduced fees only after three months - not immediately as the parliament and commission originally wanted.
Mobile operators draw between 10%-18% of their revenues from international roaming charges, according to a 2006 study by research firm Evalueserve. Also, the bulk of these revenues are drawn during the summer months when more Europeans travel.
Despite the protests of Europe's mobile phone operators, the commission has so far managed to fast-track the limits on roaming fees thanks to the overwhelming popularity of the issue. Commission figures show that some 70% of Europeans are behind the push.
BELTUG watches the decision process very closely. If the EU decided to have a three-month reprieve before the reduced roaming fees are automatically applied, BELTUG will alert its members, so they can take action towards their mobile operator.