Juncker takes roaming personally… … and lobbying goes both ways

Juncker takes roaming personally… … and lobbying goes both ways


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When European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, said he planned for the European Commission to be big on big things, and small on small things, this also translated to a reality where he personally pays more personal attention to the big things. More importantly he is not afraid to throw his weight around when necessary.

Juncker was quite upset at the ‘fair use’ caps proposed by his own services and took a hard decision to roll back the Commission’s announcement which said that mobile operators can charge for roaming if a user spends more than 30 consecutive days, or over 90 days per year in a different EU country. Though quite late, it was not too late, and Juncker managed to steer the final part of the phasing out of roaming charges in the direction that the EU has bound itself over the years.

Juncker nullified work that had gone through a very long process at several levels. It is also fair to ask, how powerful can lobbyists be to manage the inclusion of such a fair use clause? Indeed, the mobile operators rejoiced at their success of the first fair use clause, but on the other side of the table European regulators were upset. The led to them placing several phone calls to some of their old friends at the European Commission. In a ‘Brussels listens’ teaching moment, the President and Commission leadership decided to make the hard choice. The first to say ‘mea culpa’ (after having had input from the regulators) was DG Connect’s Director-General, Roberto Viola. Viola’s view resonated with the Commissioners, and most importantly with the President, who pulled the trigger. The work of the services went down the drain, and while Kassandra would like to convince you that there is something wrong with that, the reality is that killing (or more realistically, softening) the fair use clause is in favour of the European citizen, and more importantly, in line with what the EU has been promising all these years.

Critics on the other hand will say that anyone who maintains a Luxembourg mobile number in Brussels, but spends (a little) over 90 days a year in Brussels, would have been angry too…

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