Mobile phone roaming charges for making calls, sending texts and using data could remain in place across Europe until at least 2018. This marks a notable U-turn after MEPs voted in 2013 to abolish such charges by the end of 2015.
The European Commission has instead been asked to consult on how it can further reduce, or abolish, charges after proposals put forward by the Council of Europe, made up of new MEPs who took office after last year's elections.
“As the next step, the Commission will be asked to assess by mid-2018 what further measures may be needed with a view to phasing out roaming charges,” said the Council.
The proposals will be negotiated by the Council and European Parliament before any decision is made.
The news will be a blow to consumers and businesses looking forward to the end of roaming charges, which were a key target for Neelie Kroes during her time in office when prices were reduced several times.
The decision was criticised by some, such as Guy Verhofstadt, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, who took to Twitter to voice his frustration.
The proposals from the Council also referred to net neutrality, and seemed to suggest that it is open to the idea that some services running on top of networks - such as streaming services like Netflix - could face higher fees.
"As regards services other than those providing internet access, agreements on services requiring a specific level of quality will be allowed, but operators will have to ensure the quality of internet access services," it said.
Marietje Schaake MEP, an ALDE Group spokesperson, was highly critical of this inclusion.
"These net neutrality proposals are extremely disappointing, to the point of being insulting, and could lead to commercial practices that go against consumer interests, against innovative start-ups, and against fair competition in the digital economy," he said.
"The European Parliament has repeatedly called for strong net neutrality provisions; the Council should have shown similar ambition."
The move in this direction is at odds with the US which agreed last week that internet access should be regulated like a utility, effectively ending the chance for telecoms firms to charge more for the delivery of certain content or services.
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