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EU roaming charges ‘to go by July 2016’

After months of waiting, the EU finally announced the date when mobile phone roaming charges will be scrapped. There should be no extra charge on calls, texts or internet by July 2016.

EU roaming charges 'to go by July 2016'
Photo: DPA

New rules brought in this July meant that customers of German phone providers cannot be asked to pay more than 24 cents a minute plus tax to make a call while visiting another EU country.

And by July 2016, all extra costs should be a thing of the past, German news magazine Focus uncovered after gaining access to the EU draft bill. The document states how providers will be encouraged to ditch charges before this date.

People using providers which seem slow to drop the fees could, when abroad, receive text messages from competing companies offering them short term, cheaper, contracts. This should encourage companies to get rid of roaming charges before July 2016.

EU commissioner for digital technology Neelie Kroes told Focus that “the end of roaming is near.”

From July 2013, incoming calls were capped at 8.3 cents a minute, down from a maximum 9.5 cents. The cost of sending a message cannot now exceed 9.5 cents.

Checking emails while visiting another EU country is now considerably cheaper with the price of downloading a megabyte of data plummeting from a maximum 83.3 cents per megabyte to 53.5 cents after tax.

Price caps are set to sink further next July. The annual price caps began in 2012 and were timed to coincide with the start of the European holiday season.

The new draft also suggest that companies get rid of contracts that tie in customers for longer than 24 months.

The Local/jcw/jlb

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MONEY

Where in Germany do people have the highest disposable income?

An economic study has shown huge regional differences in income throughout Germany. So which parts of the country have the most to spend each month, and which are feeling the squeeze?

Where in Germany do people have the highest disposable income?

A study by the Economic and Social Sciences Institute (WSI) of the Hans-Böckler foundation reveals stark regional differences in disposable income in Germany. In some cases, households had as much as double the spending money of those in other parts of the country. 

Here’s where people have the most – and least – disposable income each month.

What is disposable income?

The WSI calculated disposable income as the sum of income from wealth and employment, minus social contributions, income taxes, property taxes and other direct benefits or taxes.

What’s left is the income which private households can either spend on consumer goods or save.

The study, which was based on the most recent available national accounts data for 2019, looked at the disposable income of all of the 401 counties, districts and cities across Germany.

Which regions have the highest and lowest disposable incomes?

The study found that the regions with the highest disposable incomes were in the southern states.

Heilbronn in Baden-Württemberg had the highest disposable income of all 401 German counties and independent cities – with an average per capita disposable income of €42,275. The district of Starnberg in Bayern followed in second place with €38,509.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: How much do employees really earn across Germany’s states?

By comparison, per capita incomes in the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg in North Rhine-Westphalia were less than half as high, at €17,015 and €17,741 respectively. These regions had the lowest disposable income in the country. 

The study also found that, more than thirty years since German reunification, the eastern regions continue to lag behind those in the west in terms of wages.

According to the WSI, the Potsdam-Mittelmark district is the only district in the former east where the disposable per capita income of €24,127 exceeds the national average of €23,706.

Do regional price differences balance things out?

The study also showed that regionally different price levels contribute to a certain levelling out of disposable incomes, as regions with high incomes also tend to have higher rents and other living costs.

“People then have more money in their wallets, but they cannot afford more to the same extent,” WSI scientist Toralf Pusch explained.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: When will Germany raise the minimum wage?

Therefore, incomes in the eastern states, adjusted for purchasing power, are generally somewhat higher than the per capita amounts would suggest.

That could explain why, even after price adjustment, the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg in western Germany continue to be at the very bottom of the list.

Saxon-Anhalt’s Halle an der Saale, on the other hand, which has an average disposable income of only €18,527, benefits from the lower prices in the east.

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