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Looking back on the week of our parliamentary delegation in Washington DC

It is particularly important for Democrats on both sides to work more closely together.

1st step for free roaming to be extended for another 10 years in the EU

Roaming free zone

Presidency member Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (EAJ-PNV) welcomed the European Parliament Industry Committee's agreement to extend free-roaming for another ten years. The compromise improves the current regulation, which expires in summer 2022, by making it cheaper for domestic operators to access networks in other countries to offer their customers services and avoid discrimination. It also prohibits arbitrary decreases in quality of service, improves transparency on tariffs for special services, and guarantees access from mobile networks to 112 throughout the EU. The report was supported by 67 votes, while seven MEPs abstained.

Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, who has represented the Renew Europe group in the negotiations on this report, welcomed the agreement's contents, which will now have to be negotiated with the governments of the member states. The Basque MEP, who will form part of the team that will have to negotiate the contents of the new regulation with the Council, considers it a priority that the legislative process that should lead to the approval of a new regulation should be concluded before the current regulation expires in the summer of next year. "With this agreement", emphasised Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, "we are laying the foundations from the European Parliament to maintain and improve over the next ten years a reality, such as the end of roaming charges, which thanks to the European Union, is now a right for users. It is also a fundamental pillar for the functioning of the digital single market, technology development, and the stimulation of innovation. The European Union is proving its usefulness with measures like this, which have a direct, immediate, and perceptible impact on the quality of services and on citizens' pockets".

We are making it cheaper and improving access to digital services that we use from our mobile phones, every day, everywhere, even when we travel, to access increasingly sophisticated and essential services," she said.

In the first place, the agreement sets out guarantees for domestic carriers to have non-discriminatory access to the networks used by their customers when they travel to other member states. To this end, conditions have been included to regulate access to wholesale roaming, and a lower price table has been proposed than the one currently in force, leaving it at 0.01 euros for calls, 0.003 euros for SMS and a progressive decrease for data (0.75 euros from 2024, 0.5 euros from 2025).

Measures have also been incorporated to ensure that any charges for special or high added-value services that are supplementary to the actual use of the network are made in conditions of knowledge and transparency for the user. And that access to emergency services is provided without any additional charge. The European Telecommunications Operators Authority (BEREC) shall establish a single Union-wide database containing the means of access to emergency communications that are mandatory in each Member State.