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A Europe In Denial Seeks To Abolish Mobile Roaming Charges

Two years later, all roaming charges would be scrapped altogether. Kroes (with strong support from EC President Manuel Barroso) also seeks to cap prices of EU-wide calls at the level of long-distance calls within a country. It doesnt take much cynicism to note that the personages most acutely aware of roaming charges are EU politicians and their lobbyist friends, who have to scoot between France and Belgium and their home constituencies and many important conferences and meetings at, say, Lake Como or Malaga. The generous interpretation of this is that EU apparatchiks simply assume that everyone is as annoyed by roaming charges as they are, and are thus trying to bring their benevolent influence to all and sundry. More cynically one cant help but think they are aware that those roving and roaming customers will see in the leveling of prices a convenient way of having the stationary masses absorb some of the roamers additional cost, all in the name of doing everyone a political favor. (Subsidizing the few at the cost of all incidentally being something the EU bureaucracy knows only too well how to do.) Its self-centered, yet its got a nice populist touch to it, especially when announced towards the end of summer holiday time, just as travelers find themselves hit by the hefty extra charges. Its hard to avoid this interpretation given that the official website of the Digital Agenda for Europe suggests that there is weak competition among national operators for roaming customers [that] has, at times, led to excessive prices for these services. Not only is it the EU Commissions position, apparently, to determine what prices exactly are excessive, they are also aware there is weak competition among operators. But if there is sufficient domestic, home-country competition, it is surely a question of lack of customer-bother about roaming services, not the positioning or quantity of carriers available. In other words: its a demand problem, not a supply problem. In fairness, an intra-EU wide competition is a desirable notion and it is tough to regulate the EU-wide set of services which have traditionally been the province of national regulators. But short of having Brussels take over all regulation of telecom servicessomething that the limited popular accountability of Brussels bureaucrats makes an unpalatable propositionthats not easy. Certainly for telecommunication companies who know how to work with the devils they know (Paris, Rome, Berlin), adding an unknown overseer in Brussels is not an attractive scenario.

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A Kenyan police officer guards the entrance of a building near the mall on September 23. A Kenyan security officer takes cover as gunfire and explosions are heard from the mall on September 23. Heavy smoke rises from the Westgate Shopping Mall on September 23. Medics take cover behind a tree as gunfire and explosions are heard from the Westgate Mall on September 23. A Kenyan police security officer runs for cover as heavy smoke rises from the mall on September 23. A paramedic runs for cover outside the mall on September 23. People run for cover outside the mall after heavy shooting started on September 23. Kenyan security forces crouch behind a wall outside the mall on September 23. Soldiers take cover after gunfire near the mall on September 23. Kenyan paramilitary police officers patrol the area near the mall on Sunday, September 22. Soldiers from the Kenya Defense Forces arrive outside the Westgate Mall on September 22. A woman shields a baby as a soldier stands guard inside the Westgate Mall on Saturday, September 21. A rescue worker helps a child outside the mall. People who had been hiding inside the mall during the gunfire flee the scene. An armed official takes a shooting position inside the mall.

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