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Agreement reached to extend free mobile roaming rules in the EU

Met dank overgenomen van Europees Parlement (EP), gepubliceerd op donderdag 9 december 2021.

The “Roam like at Home” scheme will be renewed for another ten years, under plans informally agreed between MEPs and the Slovenian Presidency of the Council, on Thursday.

Under the agreement, a follow-up to the 2017 elimination of roaming surcharges, consumers will continue to be able to use their mobile phones when travelling abroad in the EU with no additional fees on top of what they already pay at home.

In addition, they would be entitled to the same quality and speed of mobile connection abroad as at home. Roaming providers will be obliged to offer the same roaming quality as those offered domestically, if the same conditions are available on the network in the visiting country. To this aim, MEPs secured a provision to prohibit practices that reduce the quality of roaming services (e.g. by switching the connection from 4G to 3G).

Free access to emergency services

Travellers will have access to emergency services without any additional charge - whether by call or text message, including the transmission of caller location information. Operators would also have to provide information about the European emergency number 112, it was agreed. People with disabilities will be able to access emergency services without additional charges.

Call for ending surcharges for intra-EU calls

During negotiations, MEPs pushed to end surcharges for intra-EU calls (e.g. when calling from Belgium to Italy), as consumers are still confused about the difference between roaming calls and intra-EU calls. Intra-EU calls are currently capped at 19 cents per minute. The agreement provides for the Commission to look into the situation and assess whether further reduction of the caps are necessary.

Wholesale roaming charges - the price operators charge each other when their customers use other networks when roaming the EU - will be capped at €2 per Gigabyte (GB) from 2022 progressively down to €1 in 2027. If consumers exceed their contract limits when roaming, any additional charges can not be higher than the wholesale roaming caps.

Quote

Lead MEP Angelika Winzig (EPP, AT) said: “We were able to reach an agreement that is progressive and leads to even better quality and service for European citizens. We are creating a fairer roaming market, especially focusing on smaller operators by significantly cutting the wholesale caps. As European Parliament chief negotiator, it was my goal to improve the situation significantly for consumers”, she said.

“We succeeded in ensuring a new regulation that delivers exactly that, while also providing enough flexibility to react to new developments in the telecom and technological sectors. This way we make sure that the EU constantly has its finger on the pulse. Tonight’s agreement is one step closer to a true Digital Single Market and I am happy that we could add a new chapter to this European success story”, she concluded.

Next steps

The informal agreement will now have to be formally endorsed by Parliament and Council to come into force. The Industry, Research and Energy Committee will vote on the text in a forthcoming meeting.

Background

The Roaming Regulation established the 'Roam-Like-At-Home' (RLAH) rule that mandated the end of retail roaming surcharges in the EU as of 15 June 2017. The regulation is currently in force until 30 June 2022. Five years after the regulation was adopted in 2015, the Commission reviewed the scheme to assess its effects and the need to extend it, as explained in its impact assessment.


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