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Keep on roaming

The decision to uphold EU legislation limiting mobile phone ‘roaming’ charges is a predictable but welcome outcome, says Paul Stanley QC

22 June 2010

In 2007, the EU adopted legislation (Regulation (EC) 717/2007) designed to limit ‘roaming’ charges for mobile phone use. It regulated both the wholesale charges – the amounts that one network provider charged others – and retail charges – the amount that a network charged its own customers. Various mobile telephone companies challenged the English legislation implementing the regulation, though the true challenge was to the validity of the EU regulation itself. That challenge was referred, as it had to be, to the ECJ (Case C-58/08 Vodafone Ltd (Grand Chamber, 8 June 2010)).

The first ground of challenge was to the vires of the regulation. It was said that article 95 EC (now article 114 TFEU) was not a permissible legal basis for the harmonisation measure adopted because it was not really a ‘single market’ measure, but truly one of consumer protection. The problem was not really that national regulatory systems were divergent, and needed to be brought int...

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