Tourists and business visitors in Brussels welcomed the EU's abolition of mobile phone roaming charges within the European Economic Area, which came into effect on Thursday, a long-awaited measure for some.
Nevertheless, 'fair usage' rules will still allow phone companies to impose additional charges if a customer spends what they consider to be too much time abroad.
The decade-long battle against roaming charges took on an added significance after Britain voted to quit the bloc last year in a surge of anti-EU sentiment, making Brussels keen to demonstrate the benefits of membership to ordinary citizens.
But after the agreement to abolish retail roaming charges in June this year, policymakers grappled with the challenge of who would foot the bill as telecom operators still need to pay each other to keep their customers connected abroad.
The difficulty was compounded by wide differences in domestic prices and consumption patterns across the bloc, making a wholesale cap that suited all national markets extremely hard to settle.
However, countries in southern Europe where tourism is vital to their economies worried that if wholesale prices were too low their operators could be forced to raise domestic prices to recover the costs.
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