EU's digital chief calls for 'radical compromise' to help kill off roaming charges

Europe's Digital Agenda chief Neelie Kroes has asked politicians to push through a legislative package to bring in a single European telecoms market and put an end to mobile roaming costs.

EU Digital Agenda chief Neelie Kroes is trying to fire up Europe's politicians to agree on legislation that would bring in a single telecoms market, and lay the foundations of an end to mobile roaming fees.

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In a speech to European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday, Kroes stressed the urgency of striking a deal to unify Europe's fractured telecoms market, urging members to consider "radical legislative compromises" to get the deal done.

"I am not promising a single market package that gives you everything you dreamed of. This package will have to strike a sensitive balance if we are to agree it quickly," said Kroes.

"Our mutual responsibility and our greatest contribution will be to develop a radical legislative compromise. One that our innovators and citizens can build on." 

Telecoms unification has become a top priority for Kroes who is hoping to lock in a deal before next year's European elections.

"It is my belief that we can deliver such a package — this full, final, package — around Easter 2014," she said.

A published blueprint of the package was due for release this October, however was recently brought forward to June in an effort to accelerate the telecoms plan, according to the Financial Times.

Europe's telecoms industry, represented by the association ETNO, will have an opportunity to make amendments before the final package is released.

Issues related to a single telecoms market that have been on the table for some time include making cross-border mergers easier; network infrastructure sharing agreements; and allocating additional mobile spectrum. It could also force regulators to work on a regional basis rather than nationally.

Kroes noted that Europe had already achieved some success in tackling roaming charges, but it was still well short of an actual single market. Last year, the EU implemented a phased reduction of roaming data charges , which are set to fall to 50 eurocents per MB by July 2014, with similar phased cuts being brought in for voice roaming charges. 

"It is only if a genuine single market actually exists that roaming can cease to exist, in legal or economic terms," said Kroes.

"I want you to be able to go back to your constituents and say that you were able to end mobile roaming costs," she told politicians.