Analysis 19 Oct 17

EU Mulls Lower Roaming Charges for Balkans

The European Commission is considering cutting roaming charges for the Western Balkans, following calls from EU candidate countries to abolish the fees. 

Mariya Cheresheva
BIRN
Sofia
Photo: Pixabay

The European Commissioner in charge of Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, has asked the commission's services to develop a roadmap towards lowering roaming charges between the EU and Western Balkans, a spokesperson for the European Commission told BIRN.

Gabriel was the first to announce the initiative last Wednesday at a working meeting with EU ambassadors from the six Western Balkan countries, adding that the digital integration of the Balkans was her priority.

“The commission has already encouraged mobile operators to bring roaming rates more in line with the underlying costs of cross-border data flows in the region,” the spokesperson said. However, they refrained from commenting on a potential timeframe for the scrapping of roaming charges. For the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), the process took 10 years.

The end of extra roaming charges for mobile communications within the EU and EEA arrived on June 15 this year, and was celebrated as a major success story for consumer rights. However, it was swiftly followed by calls from EU candidate countries in the Balkans to extend the so-called “Roaming like Home” rules to the region.

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