On Wednesday I voted in favour of new caps on the cost of using a mobile phone when abroad and I supported new laws designed to open up Europe’s energy markets and end rip-off energy charges, banning unfair pre-payment meter charges.
On mobile roaming a majority of MEPs had previously voted in 2007 to cut the cost of voice calls from an average of £1 per minute down to 40p and warned the mobile phone companies that for text messages and data use (using the internet and sending e-mails) they would have to end their unfair high charges voluntarily or we would do it for them. Well they didn’t do it, so on Wednesday we voted to cap the price of texts sent from one EU country to another at 9 pence and cut data roaming wholesale prices down to 85 pence a megabyte by July this year and down to 39 pence from July 2011. It is high time that we ended the great mobile phone rip-off and I’m proud to have played my part, on behalf of the many holidaymakers and business people from the East Midlands.
We also voted through various pieces of legislation today on opening up Europe’s electricity and gas markets. For the first time in European legislation, and largely due to the sterling work of my Labour friend and colleague Eluned Morgan, the concept of “energy poverty” is recognised. As with mobile roaming, customers have been ripped off for too long by energy companies. The laws we have approved will help ensure that energy companies can no longer abuse their dominant position. The ban on discriminatory pricing means that customers who pay up front for their electricity through a pre-payment meter will no longer be penalised for it.