PN230507B

Embargo: Immediate Wednesday 23 May 2007
Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659

EU PARLIAMENT RIGHT TO INTRODUCE MOBILE PHONE ROAMING CAPS - LORD FREEMAN

Lord Freeman, Chairman of the House of Lords European Union Sub-Committee on the Internal Market has today welcomed the European Parliament decision to introduce caps on mobile phone roaming charges in the EU but criticised the decision to include caps on retail charges.

The Lords Committee recently published an influential report on the EU's proposals to cap mobile phone roaming charges and concluded that a wholesale price cap of 30 euro cents per minute was necessary to protect customers and ensure small businesses were not impeded from doing business across the EU.

While the Committee welcome the EU moves to introduce caps they stand by the argument in their original report that wholesale caps, combined with a safety-net tariff, could mean savings are passed on to consumers while ensuring competition in the market is maintained. They are concerned that the introduction of retail caps will stifle competition and discourage innovation in the mobile phone market.

Lord Freeman, said:

"We are pleased that the European Parliament have today voted to introduce caps on roaming charges.

"People have been overcharged for using their phones abroad for too long now and it has become clear the market would not have resolved this issue alone. This vote should ensure we move towards a fairer system. It is vital that the Parliament, Commission and Presidency now work together to deliver benefits to consumers this summer.

"However we do have some areas of concern with today's vote we feel averaged wholesale caps, rather than retail price caps, could have ensured customer savings while maintaining an element of competition in the market that would encourage innovation."

Notes to Editors

1. The Committee's original report, Mobile Phone Charges in the EU: Curbing the Excess was published on 23 April 2007 and is available here:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldeucom.htm

2. A debate on the Committees report will be held in the House of Lords on Thursday 24 May, it is expected to start around 5pm.