EU reaches agreement on telecom rules, including tariffs for calls within the EU

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union reached an agreement on Wednesday on the new telecom rules, which were last revised in 2009. This includes maximum rates for calls between people in different EU countries.

The European Commission reports that the maximum rates for those calls are 19 cents per minute. Reuters news agency, which reports that the political agreement was reached after 12 hours of negotiations, adds that the maximum cost for sending an SMS has been set at 6 cents.

The news agency cites the European consumer organization Beuc, which states that the costs of international calls within the EU range from 5 to 80 cents per minute. Many telecom providers would agree with the Commission and Member States that introducing maximum tariffs is an ‘unnecessary populist measure’, because services such as WhatsApp and Skype are free.

The new rules, collectively referred to as the Electronic Communications Code and proposed by the Commission in 2016, cover more than just setting tariffs. In this way they should also contribute to the availability of 5G frequencies before 2020 and to the protection of consumers. They should also serve to achieve the so-called ‘connectivity objectives’, such as the goal of providing every household with an internet connection with a minimum download speed of 100Mbit/s by 2025, while public institutions must have access to 1Gbit/s.

Reuters reports that under the new rules, which have yet to be approved by member states and the European Parliament, former monopolists could be deregulated if they invest with competitors in building new broadband networks.