Marlene Mizzi welcomes the new approach to fair use of free roaming, but calls for stronger consumer protection provisions

Following a disastrous first attempt to limit roaming without extra fees to 90 days a year, the European Commission proposed new rules to get rid of mobile roaming charges by June 2017. According to the new proposal, there should be no limits on consumers when using their mobile devices abroad in the EU, but they will have to provide an evidence of stable links with the member state where the SIM card comes from.

As the S&D spokesperson on consumer rights and member of the negotiating team  on the roaming legislation, MEP Marlene Mizzi commented during a debate in plenary: “The previous proposal of the Commission to restrict roaming to only 90 days a year was absolutely unacceptable. We promised citizens a total ban on roaming, not 90 days of credit. There should be no limits in terms of timing or volume imposed on consumers.”

The new rules on “fair use” policy will safeguard the right of bona fide consumers traveling abroad to “roam-like-at-home” without any limitations, whilst at the same time will prevent dishonest phone users or companies to abuse roaming rights by buying SIM cards in countries where they are cheaper and then continue using or selling them at home.

“Peoples’ expectations are that as of June 2017 there will be no roaming charges. Therefore, I am glad that the Commission has taken into account our reactions seriously and decided to drop of the time-limits on roaming. And I welcome the new approach to fair use of free roaming, which is definitely a huge improvement from the previous limit of 90 days,” said MEP Mizzi.

However, MEP Mizzi called on the Commission to clarify a few remaining questions with the new rules in order to guarantee strong consumer protection provisions. “We need to know how, when and what will trigger the fair clause and how consumers can be protected from abusive contractual clauses and additional subjective assessments. Operators should not impose unnecessary administrative burdens or costs on consumers and must provide access to an easy, efficient and transparent complaint procedure,” said Marlene Mizzi.

“It is normal that once the roaming charges are removed people will use this service more. Consumers should not be penalised, simply because now theymake more use of  a service  that was previously too expensive .  We expect the consumer to be given what was promised to them  , that is, abolition of roaming fees by June 2017, without ambiguous clauses  and fuzzy definitions,” MEP Mizzi said.

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