Dutch Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) foresees a big fight between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers on the Telecoms Single Market. Today the Council announced that instead of abolishing roaming, it will be gradually capped. This measure will be effective in 2016 and only in 2018 they will be willing to talk about the abolishment of roaming. Schaake: “The current position of the Council is seriously lacking ambition. It is an insult to the European Parliament, but most of all to Europeans who want their phone bills to be cut down. Parliament won’t back down and will fight for a better plan.” Schaake sent a letter to the Council of Ministers, to come up with more progressive plans to end roaming charges, and to secure net neutrality. Within a day, more than 126 Members of the European Parliament co-signed Schaake’s letter.
The weakened proposals on net neutrality are also unacceptable for Schaake. Schaake: “Clear rules on net neutrality are essential to provide internet users with access to all services. Telecom companies are currently limiting the choices of hundreds of millions of Europeans every day. Net neutrality is key to ensure that consumers are protected, innovative start-ups can develop and competition on the open internet is fair.”
The position of the Council will be formally adopted in the Telecoms Council of 13 March. On this basis, the Commission, Parliament and Council will negotiate to come to an end result. Schaake: “As it looks now, this will be a hard confrontation. Not only do we need an ambitious telecom market for Europe now, it is also a stepping stone on which the digital market needs to be built. Even though people are making grand statements on what this would mean, the goals of the Council are currently far off from the necessity to shape the economy of the future.”