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EU Mobile Phone Charges 13 April 2007

Posted by David in EU, Europe, European Union.
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EU plans to set price limits for mobile phone charges are still moving forwards, after a committee of the European Parliament supported the move. I posted on the topic recently under the headline Get Off My Mobile Phone You Market Rigging Nutters (15.03.07) – one of my more energetic of titles I admit – but this is actually something far more important than the price of phone calls.

The very basis of this argument is the question whether the state intervene and “rig” prices? The answer is of course, no. Phone companies, as private bodies, should be free to offer whatever rates for whatever services they wish. We, as free individuals, should be free to negotiate and choose as we see fit. You don’t even have to use a phone if you don’t want to.

Despite the nice headlines of “international calls getting cheaper”, by fixing cross-border prices the phone companies will recoup their losses elsewhere – in higher domestic charges, less freebies, poorer quality service, less investment and more expensive phones (California limited the price of electricity – the investment stopped, they had black outs costing them billions).

Our choice will also have been limited. If I want a phone package with dearer calls internationally, but cheaper domestic ones, and the company wants to offer it, what right does the EU have to stop it? We should all be free to charge and pay what we like. Anyone in favour of intervention needs to be asked how they would like the EU to dictate what they charge for their labour/goods/services?

But to the EU, this is – as Mark Mardell on the BBC explained – an attempt to win over the public with headlines. It will be another thing for their dodgy self-congratulatory list of “nice things the EU has done for you”. Reading BBC Have Your Say, it may have worked: “Oh dear- the EU and its parliament may be doing something useful for the UK after all. What will all those Europe-bashing HYS contributors have to say now?” writes Simongw, while Jabba DeHutt writes “Yes. I am a regular Euro traveller and quite frankly the charges are extortionate. British mobile phone providers should be ashamed of themselves. The sooner we embrace Europe totally the better off we will all be…”

They’ve not thought it through.

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