(AFP) – European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker has ordered officials to draw up new plans for the EU’s landmark free mobile phone roaming policy after it ran into fierce criticism for a proposed 90-day limit, a statement said Friday.
“The Commission services have, on the instruction of President Juncker, withdrawn the draft and are working on a new version,” the statement on the Commission’s Digital Single Market webpage said.
The Commission announced the original “free roaming” plans with huge fanfare in early 2015, but when it unveiled the details this week consumer groups were outraged by the limit to just 90 days of free roaming a year.
They charged that the Commission, the EU’s executive arm, had caved into the powerful telecoms companies for whom roaming charges have been a lucrative source of extra income.
Friday’s U-turn comes just days after the European Commission had insisted that its proposals really did end roaming charges as it had promised to do.
“Let me be very clear, we have put an end to roaming,” Juncker’s spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Wednesday.
“Roaming means travelling, means moving around the European Union, going on holiday. The Europeans who travel do so on an average of 12 days per year,” Schinas said.
“The Commission with our guidelines have gone much further by abolishing roaming charges for at least 90 days per year,” he added.
Ending roaming charges was flagged as a key step in creating a single telecoms market in Europe, one of the Commission’s strategic objectives