Message not delivered: End to ‘rip-off’ roaming charges will help EU spread prosperity, says North West MEP

A North West MEP has championed the end of ‘huge mobile bills ruining people’s holidays, after European Parliament voted to scrap roaming charges across the EU.

Labour MEP Afzal Khan, along with other members of European Parliament, backed a law that will see roaming charges abolished completely by June 2017.

The law will also see new caps reducing them by 75% in the 14-months before their complete abolishment.

Speaking after the vote, Mr Khan said he had voted for the legislation because communication companies had been ‘ripping people off.

He told MM: “We have free movements of people and service, so why were we being charged like this?

“It was a case of monopolies playing around and [MEPs] need to make sure that the people in the EU benefit from this whole harmonisation.

“Mobiles these day are pretty essential, we all have them, and we all use them to communicate with one another.

“This new legislation means that basically we pay the same rate, and I think it’s great.

“Whether you’re a business man, whether you’re on holiday, or a student moving around in Europe, all these people will benefit.”

The total cost of roaming charges to Britons is estimated to be over £550million a year, with a fifth of holidaymakers returning from an EU trip to find their bill, on average, £61 higher.

The removal of the charges comes after seven years of the EU forcing down prices through year-on-year caps on operators.

However, Britain’s continued involvement in the EU is set to become a major topic of debate in the near future.

Ahead of the ‘in-out’ referendum promised by the Tory’s in their General Election manifesto, which will be held by the end of 2017.

Speaking about the referendum, Mr Khan said that people needed to make an ‘informed decision’ when day voting came.

He cited the abolishment of roaming charges as just one of the everyday benefits of being part of the union.

“One of the tragedies is that the message of the benefit of being part of the European Union has never really been delivered to people,” he said.

“It’s not just a question of maintaining peace, which is a huge value, but it also means economic prosperity.

“There are many day-in day-out benefits that we use.

“Workers holidays are linked to the EU, maternity leave is linked to the EU, equal pay – there are so many different things that every day, every British person is using.”

Image courtesy of Ed Gregory, with thanks.

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