In order to achieve this, Europeans for Fair Roaming built a network, launched a broad online initiative and campaigned publicly to counter the lobbying of mobile network operators.
The campaign was initiated by members of the European Federalist Party in 2010 but quickly grew into a network of organisations, MEPs and individuals from all over Europe and all political groups. Until 2012, the campaign managed to gather the support of 20 organisations, 14 members of the European Parliament and more than 150.000 individuals.
Based on this, the network campaigned for lower roaming charges and the right to choose your operator when you go abroad – and was successful. In May, the European Parliament and the Council voted in favour of a new EU roaming regulation that includes most of the demands.
Originally, the campaign was thought as the preparation for a European Citizens’ Initiative but because of the success this campaign had even before registering an ECI, the campaigning team decided not to launch an ECI when this became possible in April 2012 (nevertheless, another group unconnected to FairRoaming.org launched an ECI called "Single Communication Tariff Act").
Important experiences gained by the campaign
There are some important lessons to be learnt from the success of this campaign. First of all, the cause of a campaign should be simple to understand and to communicate. Campaigns can be most successful if they concentrate on a single issue formulated in such a way that it can be supported by many people.
It is also important to do a lot of research and networking even before the campaign is presented and goes “live”. This includes researching what the current legal situation is and what is being proposed by other political actors in this field. If this is not done properly, a campaign might end up demanding something that is unrealistic and of no interest to anyone.
Once the campaign is launched, it is essential to build a network of organisations, politicians and individuals that will promote and maybe even help with the work of the campaign. Especially for actual citizen-led campaigns this is necessary to gain credibility and influence.
When a campaign is prepared, it is also very important to draw up a budget for the campaign and raise the necessary funding. For example, the FairRoaming.org cost around € 3.000,most of which was covered by private donations. For larger campaigns, such as ECIs, the budget will likely have to be up to 100 times higher!
Europeans for fair roaming
Facebook group of the campaign