Swiftly dubbed ‘the Tory tourist tax,’ the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has drawn up draft legislation that would enable mobile operators to charge roaming fees for calls and data inside the EU, should the UK leave Europe in a no-Brexit deal come March.
The draft legislation entitled ‘Mobile Roaming (EU Exit) Regulations 2019’ was published this week and seeks to modify current UK law to revoke EU legislation on surcharges and termination rates.
The legislation would revoke the regulations that set the maximum mobile termination rates as well as those which harmonize roaming rates across the European Union.
Roaming charges inside the EU began to be regulated in 2014 and were scrapped altogether in 2017. Last September the government set out its policy on the prospect of roaming charges in the event of a failure to introduce a withdrawal agreement.
In the event that we leave the EU without a deal, the costs that EU mobile operators would be able to charge UK operators for providing roaming services would no longer be regulated after March 2019.
This would mean that surcharge-free roaming when you travel to the EU could no longer be guaranteed. This would include employees of UK companies travelling in the EU for business.
However, the government would legislate to ensure that the requirements on mobile operators to apply a financial limit on mobile data usage while abroad is retained in UK law.
The limit would be set at £45 per monthly billing period, as at present (currently €50 under EU law). The government would also legislate, subject to Parliamentary approval, to ensure the alerts at 80% and 100% data usage continue.- Government spokesperson: The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
The big four mobile operators have all announced that they currently do not have plans to reintroduce roaming charges if a no deal Brexit transpires. But only Three UK has clearly stated it would definitely not reintroduce charges.
Others, such as Vodafone and EE have been more circumspect. Vodafone say it is too soon to assess the implications of Brexit on roaming charges, while EE said they are working closely with the government to ensure prices are as low as possible for their customers.