Mobile phones: Eurotariffs

Article published on Dec. 17, 2007
Article published on Dec. 17, 2007
To reduce the prices of calls made or received when you are outside your home country, the EU has approved maximum rates that phone companies cannot exceed

Vivian Reding, commissioner for Information Society and Media, has created an unnecessary and complicated webpage to explain the advantages and results of her achievements.

If you want your call to be a little cheaper when you travel within Europe, you must do only one thing: nothing. Since this 1 October 2007, phone companies must automatically apply the Eurotariff when calls are made or received outside the mobile owner’s home country, without the client having to request this ahead of time.

Reding explains for us that the legal basis for this Eurotariff is clearly outlined in the so called Roaming Regulation (No 717/2007). Roaming is the service that phone operators in other countries provide us when we use our mobiles in their countries. To avoid the prickly formality of a Hungarian company sending a bill to a Portuguese citizen who made various calls in Budapest during their holiday, both the client’s regular service provider and the company that made the call possible will settle the bill between them and he will receive the charge directly from his national company, this way avoiding more than one bill.

Fall in prices, without transparency

The fall in prices doesn’t cause vertigo, rather provokes laughter. The regulation fixes a limited maximum of 0.49 euros/ minute for each call made, which will be reduced to a maximum of 0.43 in 2009. To receive calls, the maximum that you must pay is 0.24 euros and this will be reduced by five cents in 2009. Yet the prices appear without VAT. This is a curious contradiction created by the European commission, which had recently demanded that aerial companies provide complete transparency in the price information presented on their webpages, but the commission itself has here omitted the detail of VAT (in other countries like Sweden and Denmark you can pay up to 25% VAT). In spite of this interventionism in maximum rates, the market continues to be open and phone companies will always be able to offer more ‘interesting’ tariffs to their customers.

Useful information

Some useful information does appear on the commission’s webpage, for example, the operators that work in all European Union countries and a comparison (albeit incomplete, leaving out countries in the European Economic Area: Switzerland, Norway and Iceland), of what prices exist in those said countries depending on which operator is used. The regulation on Eurotariffs will expire on 30 June 2010. The European commission must review its procedure and the benefit of prolonging or modifying the maximum fixed tariffs before the end of 2008.