International calls within the EU should be cheaper

Calling friends in another EU country from Germany? So far this can be expensive. The EU is now putting a stop to high charges for international calls.

Quietly phone a little longer to Portugal

Nafter roaming charges, the European Union now also wants to put an end to high prices for calls to other EU countries. The EU Parliament will vote on appropriate new rules on Wednesday. Accordingly, calls from your own country to another EU state should only cost a maximum of 19 cents per minute per minute – regardless of whether from a mobile phone or a landline phone. The costs per SMS are capped at a maximum of six cents.

After the approval in Parliament, the Council of Member States must formally give the green light. Then the new price caps can come into force in May 2019. An agreement in principle on the innovations was reached in June.

The so-called roaming charges for calls from external networks in other EU countries had already been abolished in the summer of 2017. On the other hand, calls from home networks abroad were not affected by these rules. So far, such phone calls have often cost a lot. According to data from the European Consumer Association, charges of up to 1.99 euros per minute for international calls via mobile phone were incurred in Germany in 2016.

The planned new EU requirements are met with approval from consumer advocates. “Thanks to the new regulation, consumers will save considerable costs for their calls to other EU countries from May 2019 in most cases,” said a spokesman for the European Consumer Association.

In addition to the cost cap, the new legislative package provides for a kind of reverse emergency call. Mobile phone users should be able to be warned by SMS or app in the event of dangerous major situations such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters. Such a system would have to be put in place by the EU member states within 18 months of the official adoption of the EU rules.

Further innovations: Telephone or cell phone contracts should in future offer an easily understandable overview of the conditions. In addition, information about possible reimbursements must be included – for example, if consumers still have unused prepaid credit when switching providers.

The new rules are also intended to create incentives for building a faster Internet. For example, telecommunications companies should be allowed to join forces to advance broadband expansion in remote areas. The package also provides that frequencies for the fifth generation (5G) cellular network should be available by 2020. The EU countries should assign the corresponding spectra to telecommunications companies for 20 years. This perspective should guarantee companies greater security for investments.