Deal on decreasing data roaming fees between Western Balkans and EU

Thirty-eight telecommunication operators from the European Union and the Western Balkans have agreed to make data roaming between the Western Balkans and the EU more affordable for citizens and businesses in both regions, in a process supported by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the European Commission, the Commission said on May 3.

This agreement aligns with the Roaming Declaration signed at the December EU-Western Balkans Summit in Tirana. 

Through their voluntary agreement, the operators committed to significantly reducing the gap between roaming and domestic fees for data usage in both directions between the EU and the Western Balkans, the European Commission said.

Maximum retail price levels (“price caps”) for 1 gigabyte will decrease from October 2023 to 2028 as follows: 18 euro from October 1 2023, 14 euro from 2026, and nine euro from 2028. Yearly reviews are foreseen to assess impacts and next steps.

Ahead of the agreement, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, said: “I welcome the signature of the agreement between the 38 telecommunication operators, which will allow the lowering of roaming charges between the EU and the Western Balkans from October 1 this year.

“This voluntary agreement will bring predictability, help eliminate consumer bill shocks, and facilitate substantially lowering data roaming charges for the EU and Western Balkan consumers,” Várhelyi said.

Introducing the price caps is expected to decrease data roaming prices for consumers traveling between the EU and Western Balkans by at least a third of the current average prices for data roaming, the European Commission said.

“This price capping encourages and simplifies business, cultural, tourism, and other exchanges between the EU and the Western Balkans, strengthening the links between neighbouring regions. The operators are currently working on creating products with prices below the agreed price caps, which will be available for purchase to the broadest possible number of consumers.”

Other EU and Western Balkans telecommunication operators are invited to join the initiative, the Commission said.

(Photo: Burst from Stocksnap)

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