Will Europe Abolish International Roaming Charges?

Good news for frequent travelers to Europe who don't want to fight with international roaming fees or purchasing new SIM cards for every country visited. Soon, one European cell phone (or American phone with European SIM card) could work throughout the continent.

According to the New York Times, José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, called on Wednesday for a plan to end to the high fees charged for making mobile phone calls across national borders.

In his State of the Union address before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Barroso advocated a plan that would phase out roaming fees starting in 2014 as part of a wider overhaul of the telecommunications industry. (It is worth noting that the European Union already caps roaming fees.) 

As with traveling Americans, Europeans crossing borders pay increased fees for cell phone use. That, in turn, has caused travelers in Europe to switch off or limit their phone use—which the industry claims is slowing the development of some services.

Of course, the proposal is still in the early stages, and the European Parliament (and national governments) must approve the plan before it becomes a reality. Mobile service providers, of course, are likely to fight the changes, and the GSMA—a telecommunications industry group—already released a statement saying that the focus of an overhaul should be “increased investment in Europe’s telecoms infrastructure” as part of a “more thorough and comprehensive approach.”