What can the EU do for you?

Peter Skinner - MEP for the South-East.
Peter Skinner - MEP for the South-East.

EVER come back from holiday only to be whacked with a huge mobile phone bill?

The kind of bill that leaves you baffled given you only made one call and maybe checked facebook once or twice while you were away?

It can be an incredibly frustrating experience that sours the holiday.

Those mammoth mystery bills could soon be a thing of the past thanks to the efforts of the European Parliament.

Changes should see the cost of making a call drop this year from around 30p/min to 21p/min with the cost of sending a text falling to 7p. Further changes will follow with the cost of making a call set to fall as low as 13p/min by 2015. The cost of data could drop to 17p/MB.

Talking or writing about the EU can often be a challenge as it can seem remote from day to day life.

All the big issues people worry about – the NHS, education, crime – are run by national governments with the EU seemingly wrapped up in the management of arcane regulations.

But the EU does important work. It may not make the front pages but MEPs have been crucial in key areas like animal welfare, employment law and business regulation.

Just last week the European Parliament intervened in the debate over roaming charges.

Phone companies are still using international travel as a way of ripping off customers. Airwaves know no international borders so it’s crazy for customers to pay loads for a phone call from Dover to Calais twenty one miles away, while Dover to the Shetlands, hundreds of miles away off the coast of Scotland, costs much less.

I wanted roaming charges scrapped altogether but this compromise will bring down phone and data roaming charges across the EU in time for this year’s summer holidays.

Consumers are paying four times the price that operators have to pay in the wholesale market for roaming calls.

That can’t be right. But this can only be controlled at an international level by an organisation like the EU.

We now need the backing of national governments, including our own, so I will be calling on our Ministers to back consumers and support cuts to roaming charges.

Don’t forget you can learn more on my website (www.peterskinnermep.eu) and you can follow me on Twitter (@PWSkinnerMEP) and Facebook (Peter Skinner MEP).

PETER SKINNER - MEP for the South-East