Minister Viitanen: EU communications legislation must be developed in the interest of citizens
Finland's Minister of Housing and Communications Pia Viitanen considers the roaming charges initiative of Commissioner Neelie Kroes to be interesting, yet controversial. Speaking to the European Parliament on Thursday 30 May, Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said that telephone operators should abolish roaming charges, i.e. billing customers travelling within EU area for internet use, by the end of next year. "Finland welcomes substantial cuts in roaming charges. The EU's current regulation of roaming charges has already helped people and businesses make significant savings. The benefits are easy to see for everyone travelling in Europe," Minister Viitanen says. "However, we must not let removal of roaming charges become a Trojan Horse that will eventually lead to higher consumer prices," the Minister continues. "If legislative amendments result in the division of the European communications market so that it is dominated by a few large telecom operators, we have gone the wrong way. This would be detrimental for Finland, since the large operators of continental Europe are not likely to see Finland as an attractive place to set up base stations."
"Telecommunications operations in Europe must primarily be developed according to the needs of the users, whether they live in a big or small Member State. Therefore, we must not let a few telecom giants dictate the terms of development," Minister Viitanen emphasises.
Roaming charges have been subject to EU-level regulation since 2007. Initially, the price caps were only applicable to phone calls, but their scope has later been extended to cover text messages and data, too. The price regulation aims to ensure that there are no significant differences in the prices of calls made and communications services used by EU citizens in EU area.
Mr Esa Suominen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Housing and Communications, tel. +358 43 824 5668