mobile operators are facing defeat in their battle against EU plans to regulate
international roaming rates, after the EU’s Advocate General ruled this week
that the price caps were valid.
T-Mobile and O2 are challenging plans by the European Commission to regulate roaming
charges on voice calls. The operators are questioning the legal principle for
However, the operators’ challenge faces a severe setback after Luis Miguel
Poiares Pessoa Maduro, the Advocate General and a key adviser to the European
Court of Justice, ruled this week that the regulation is in the interests of
the internal market in which ‘free movement of goods, services and capital is
Although his decision is non-binding, rulings by Advocate Generals in the
vast majority of cases are heeded by the European Court of Justice. The court will
make its final ruling over the coming months.
Maduro said in a statement: ‘The differences in price between calls made
within one’s own member state and those made while roaming could reasonably be
regarded as discouraging the use of cross-border services such as roaming.’
The case was referred to the European Court of Justice in December 2007 by
the UK High Court.
A Vodafone spokesman told Mobile: ‘The EU is there to promote healthy
competition and we feel as an industry it has overstepped the mark as it has
not produced any evidence in this case of the industry abusing its market powers.’
He added: ‘This is an attempt to introduce one size fits all regulation
across the EU. In any other sector do we get, for example, one price for a glass
of wine or for books?’
Vodafone said it would continue the fight. The spokesman said: ‘We will
carry on presenting the merits of the case. Retail roaming charges have come
down anyway and will continue to come down. We are opposing this purely on the
legal principle of whether the EU can do this.’
In a statement O2 said: ‘We note the Advocate General’s opinion and await
the judgement of the European Court of Justice in due course.’
T-Mobile and Orange
were unavailable for comment.