Michel Reimon, shadow MEP for the Greens on the deal, said that the Social Democrats and Greens in Parliament wanted to disperse earlier and reconvene on another day. But the Council presidency wanted to power through to reach agreement.
“I was very much reminded of the Greek negotiations last weekend. They came up with papers, we had a break for hours, they came back and had new papers—unofficial papers, new versions,” Reimon said.
With the Latvian presidency of the Council petering out ahead of tomorrow’s handover to Luxembourg, the deal comes as a last-ditch effort to sound off the six-month term with a conclusion to the long fought over legislation on roaming charges and net neutrality provisions.
The agreement reached by MEPs, the Council of the EU and the Commission still needs to go through a revision process, which could take weeks. A first Council meeting took place this morning to present the deal to ambassadors.
A final signing off on the agreement won’t happen until this fall.
Spanish MEP Pilar del Castillo (EPP), the rapporteur on the legislation package, called the outcome on net neutrality and roaming a positive move and said it safeguards digital rights.
“This agreement means very tangible benefits for all Europeans and economic sectors and constitutes an important step forward in the development of the Digital Single Market,” del Castillo said.
Under the new agreement, roaming charges within Europe will be dropped starting on 15 June 2017. A transition phase will start next April, when charges will see a first downwards pivot. Call fees will then be capped at €0.05 per minute, an SMS at €0.02 and data use at €0.05 per megabyte.
Negotiators told EurActiv that under this deal, telecoms could still recoup fees lost to the roaming drop-off with a cost relief provision that would let them add charges under a different name.
EU digital chiefs Andrus Ansip and Günther Oettinger signalled their approval of the roaming deal. But Monique Goyens, director of consumer association BEUC, dampened enthusiastic reception to the roaming deal. Goyens tweeted this morning, warning that the text still has complex provisions on “fair use” and “undue burden.”
This deal also brings Europe a step closer to its first legislation on net neutrality.