"Millions of citizens are waiting. Let's get the job done" said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Telecommunications, at today's Council of Telecom Ministers, on the occasion of their political agreement of the Roaming Regulation

Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Telecommunications, said at today's Council of Telecom Ministers:

"Today we approach the end of a seven year saga of the long fight of the EU institutions against excessive mobile charges.

I would like to begin by expressing my sincere thanks and indeed congratulations: first of all to the Finnish Presidency for the solid foundation which was laid during its stewardship and, secondly, to you the German Presidency for your excellent leadership which has brought us to what I believe is a successful conclusion.

I would also like to acknowledge the constructive and positive approach taken by all delegations in Council. Your intense discussions have produced a solid, well-balanced proposal that will deliver tangible results for European citizens and business travellers.

By proposing the EU Roaming Regulation on 12 July 2006, after a detailed impact assessment and a public consultation, the Commission has completed its part of the job. It was necessary for us to bring forward our proposal because the operators failed to solve this problem by themselves. They did so even after the European Commission's EU roaming website highlighted in October 2005 the need for transparency and although we gave plenty of warnings that if prices did not move we would step in. Regrettably, the market was not capable of solving the problem by itself. The Commission therefore had to act.

As you know, the Commission can very well accept the compromise text on the table today because the core elements, which the Commission always believed necessary, have been preserved. Those are: caps at the wholesale level, caps at the retail level, clear benefits for all consumers and transparency.

With your support we will now need to focus on making sure that the customers receive these benefits as soon as possible. To help ensure effective implementation, the Commission has written to Parliament (and copied to Council) setting out in detail how the retail provisions should apply in practice under the supervision of the national regulatory authorities. The Commission has already started working with the national regulatory authorities to ensure that customers are treated properly.

I know that some in the industry have been saying that domestic prices may rise now to compensate operators. I find this very hard to believe because competition between mobile operators is fierce on national market. Raising domestic prices means kicking yourself out of the market. Nevertheless, the Commission and national regulators will watch market developments very closely.

I would like to say one word about the high roaming prices for mobile data. In cooperation with the national regulatory authorities, we will monitor data roaming prices during the next eighteen months. The operators should know this, heed these warning signals very carefully and bring the prices down to normal by themselves in order to avoid further regulation.

I should like to point out that this EU Roaming Regulation will automatically cease to apply after three years, unless Parliament and the Council decide otherwise. I very much hope that the Commission will not need to propose a prolongation.

Let me add a final word on the entry into force of the EU Roaming Regulation. After the political agreement of today, I call on the Council not to delay publication of the EU Roaming Regulation any further. It is now two weeks since the European Parliament adopted the EU Roaming Regulation in all official languages of the European Union. The Parliament has done an extraordinary job in asking its translators to do extra shifts over the weekend and in the evenings. The Council should follow this excellent example of working swiftly in the interests of EU citizens. I offer the help of the Commission, if you deem so required. Let's not use bureaucratic, procedural or legalistic excuses to delay the entry into force of this Regulation. Because millions of citizens are waiting. Let's get the job done. We all know well that this is possible – and I am sure you Ministers will today demonstrate Council's capacity to deliver.

Europe is waiting for your action, Ministers. Now."