Leaked document says EU ban on roaming charges due to come into effect in June will not apply to UK travellers. British tourists will have to pay mobile phone operators’ roaming charges when they travel in the EU after Brexit, according to the European parliament committee that helped pioneer the legislation.
Despite a ban on the practice, holidaymakers and business travellers will face hefty bills if they use their phone within the EU from 2019, unless the British government strikes a favourable deal with the union.
Last week, the European commission announced that, from June this year, “consumers will be able to call, send SMS or surf on their mobile at the same price they pay at home” when travelling in the EU.
The move, which has been years in the making, would significantly reduce travel costs. However, a leaked analysis on UK withdrawal from the EU confirmed this would not apply to Britons post-Brexit.
The document was drawn up earlier this month by the European parliament’s committee on industry, research and energy, and endorsed by MEPs. It states that “regulation (EU) No 531/2012 on roaming will no longer apply with respect to the UK, impacting business and other travellers to and from the UK” and that “transitional arrangements will be necessary”.
In recent years, the EU has slowly forced phone operators to reduce their roaming charges. Other companies have voluntarily dropped them as they sought a competitive edge before the expected 2017 ban.
In 2014, before roaming charges started to be reduced, 20% of UK mobile users travelling to the EU faced higher than usual bills for usage, according to data from Uswitch. The average charge added to bills was £61, and 17% of those affected faced bills of £100 or more.
The analysis also raised the question of the UK’s role in a consortium of member states that is monitoring spacecraft and space debris for the potential benefit of the EU.