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Vote signals end to roaming charges



The European Parliament vote to scrap roaming charges has been hailed by local MLAs. In welcoming the change in law SDLP South Down MLA Sean Rogers said that the charges had been ‘nothing short of discriminatory,’ while Sin Fein’s Megan Fearon, Newry and Armagh called it ‘a victory for consumers.’ The vote which passed by 534 votes to 25 last Thursday will see legislation come into effect in December 15 2015  – following approval from EU governments – and will put an end to the arbitrary roaming charges that have been a constant source of annoyance to many residents in the south Down and south Armagh areas. Mr Rogers said he was delighted tha the charges will soon be consigned to the past, adding that while most of the debate in Europe is take up on discussions of mobile fees charged whilst visiting neighbouring European countries, those who live in the border areas will welcome the significance of this announcement for different reasons. “For a long time mobile users living in or travelling close to border areas in Ireland have been plagued with the expensive problem of inadvertent roaming charges,” he said. “This is particularly true within the South Down constituency from Warrenpoint Rostrevor through to Kilkeel around the Mournes and into Newcastle. Today’s vote marks a good day for consumer rights and equality and thankfully we will soon see roaming charges a thing of the past.” Ms Fearon said that this victory for consumers would be felt “not only across Ireland but right across Europe. For many years mobile phone operators have been urged to voluntary reduce roaming charges but failed to do so, thereby continuing to unfairly exploit their own customers,” she said. “As a result the European Parliament has now taken action through legislation to eliminate this exploitation.” The move by the EU to end the charges before Christmas 2015 is part of a wider vote in support of the European Commission’s plan for a ‘Connected Continent’ a telecoms single market within the EU that also aims for open access for internet service suppliers. European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said that the vote is the EU delivering foe citizens by getting rid of barriers to make life easier and less expensive. “Nearly all of us depend on mobile and internet connections as part of our daily lives,” she said. “We should know what we are buying, we should not be ripped off and we should have the opportunity to change our mind. Companies should have the chance to serve all of us and this regulation makes it easier for them to do that. It’s win- win. In 2010 I promised to end roaming charges by the end of 2015 and now we are one step away from achieving that result. Beyond the highly visible barrier of roaming we are now close to removing many other barriers so Europeans can enjoy open seamless communications wherever they are.”       


Newry Reporter

9th April 2014