Europe to end roaming charges in 2017

After years of hard negotiations, European lawmakers have finally agreed to scrap roaming charges in the Union. In the meeting between member states, the European Parliament and the Commission, which finished at 2 AM on Tuesday, certain rules on “net neutrality” have also been introduced, Financial Times writes in a report.

Roaming fees - the extra charges for using a mobile phone abroad - will be no more, come June 2017. They will, however, be subject to a fair use policy.

In the meantime, from 2016, roaming fees will be capped at five cents per megabyte for mobile data, five cents per minute for calls and two cents per SMS message, writes Duncan Robinson.

The stance on the net neutrality issue has also been made. Net neutrality, a principle by which all internet traffic is treated as equal, has been a hot topic all around the globe, with even US president Barack Obama speaking on the issue. EU will allow specialised services for things such as streaming live TV as long as it does not hinder other users customers, in a move likely to be welcomed by telecoms groups.

Although the final text will be sent to the European Parliament and member states being it comes into law, this is expected to be a smooth process.

Günther Oettinger, the German commissioner who oversees part of digital policy, said: "I welcome today's crucial agreement to finally end roaming charges and establish pragmatic net neutrality rules throughout the EU." He added: "Both are essential for consumers and businesses.