Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has welcomed the announcement that roaming charges have now been abolished for those travelling across EU Member States, but expressed his concern that we might still see roaming charges on the island of Ireland unless a satisfactory Brexit deal is agreed.

The Sinn Féin TD said he had raised his own concerns about loopholes in the legislation with the head of the European Parliament Information Office in Dublin at a recent meeting of the Oireachtas European Union Affairs Committee earlier and got positive assurances that the current legislation would not allow phone operators an opt out clause without agreement.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“From this week roaming charges will no longer apply within the 28 EU Member States and this has come after a decade long battle with the various telecoms companies. These new ‘roam like at home’ rules will mean that the current extra charges that are presently imposed can no longer apply.

“This news will come as a relief and give greater certainty to many consumers who wait in terror for their next mobile phone bill following a holiday in Europe.

“There is one major exemption to these new regulations that people should be aware of: mobile data is not included in this abolition of charges, and charges for internet use will vary according to your network provider and phone plan.

“People should get in touch with their mobile provider to find out what they are entitled to, to ensure they don’t receive huge bills for internet use abroad.

“I had raised the issue recently at a meeting of the European Affairs Committee with the head of the European Parliament’s Information Office in Dublin, and particularly the rumours and concerns that some mobile operators were looking to get around the new legislation. He assured me that this wouldn’t be the case.

“However, operators  will be able to  choose to offer contracts without any roaming, or offer specially designed ‘alternative roaming tariffs’ that fall outside the default regime, but this must be explicitly chosen by customers and will not impact on existing customers.

“The National Regulatory Authorities will now have an increased role in ensuring that the rules of the roaming and implementing regulations are not being circumvented by the phone operators.”

Crowe continued:

“While the move to abolish roaming charges is very welcome but we must be conscious that in the context of Brexit people travelling on this island may in the very near future again face charges.

“With Britain leaving the EU, someone could be charged going to Banbridge but not going to Bulgaria.

“We now need to know what action this Government is going to take to ensure those who travel from Dundalk to Newry or from Letterkenny to Derry are not again inflicted with extra charges by telecoms companies in the future.”