EU-wide roaming costs could be abolished by 2016

Several EU flags hoisted outside a building

The European Commission wants to scrap roaming charges across the continent from 2016, provided it can win the approval for its plans from 28 EU members and lawmakers.

The move is part of the Commission's ongoing push to create a single market for telecoms across the EU, with a unified charging model for all.

Jos Manuel Duro Barroso, president of the European Commission, set out this vision in his much hyped State of the Union address yesterday.

The European Commission says no to roaming premiums, yes to net neutrality, yes to investment, yes to new jobs.

"We know that in the future, trade will be more and more digital. Isn't it a paradox that we have an internal market for goods but when it comes to digital market we have 28 national markets?

"How can we grab all the opportunities of the future that are opened by the digital economy if we don't conclude this internal market," he asked.

If the proposals are approved, mobile operators could be banned from charging users for receiving incoming calls while travelling within the EU from July 2014. All other roaming charges could then be scrapped by 2016.

This means mobile network operators would either have to offer customers EU-wide phone contracts, with the price set by "domestic competition", or allow customers to opt for a separate roaming provider while travelling within the EU.

Adopting this model will make it easier for businesses within the EU to compete and, in turn, improve the employment prospects for residents, Barroso added.

Reports last month suggested the Commission was on the verge of scrapping its anti-roaming plans, a claim that was vehemently denied by a spokesperson speaking to IT Pro at the time.

The proposal forms part of a package of measure set out by the European Commission, which also covered the issues of net neutrality, consumer rights and 4G spectrum provision.

Neelie Kroes, the Commission vice president responsible for overseeing the proposals, said the package is good news for the future of European mobile and internet services.

"The European Commission says no to roaming premiums, yes to net neutrality, yes to investment, yes to new jobs," she said.

"Fixing the telecoms sector is no longer about this one sector but about supporting the sustainable development of all sectors."

Earlier this month, mobile operator Three announced plans to abolish international roaming charges for customers while travelling to certain overseas countries through its Feel at Home initiative.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.