“The European Parliament and the European Council reached a political agreement to extend roaming rules until 2032” announced joyfully the European Commission through a Christmas-tweet.
Citizens will be able to call, text and use mobile data while travelling within the EU at no extra costs and with the same quality they experience at home; they will have improved access to emergency communications regardless of where they are in Europe; and, they will have the right to clear information when a service they use while roaming might cause inadvertent extra charges. The regulation will enter into force on 1 July 2022.
The ‘roam like at home’ policy has made communication easier and cheaper whenever people are travelling in Europe, so no wonder it is one of the greatest success stories of the digital single market.Boštjan Koritnik, Slovenian Minister for Public Administration, President of the Council
The revised roaming regulation adjusts the maximum wholesale prices to ensure that the provision of retail roaming services at domestic prices is sustainable for operators throughout the EU.
We have since 2017 enjoyed the end of roaming charges. And, today we ensured that we can keep these benefits for another 10 years to stay connected and call, text and surf the internet at no extra costs, when we travel in the EU. At the same time, with this new regulation we also improve the quality of the roaming experienceMargrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age
1. 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.
2. Higher quality for consumers
Consumers will benefit from access to roaming services, while travelling, at the same quality as they are used to when at home. Consumers that usually have 5G services at home will also be able to enjoy 5G roaming services wherever available. If specific factors could impact the quality of the roaming experience, operators will be required to promptly inform their customers.
3. Preventing unexpectedly high charges
While travelling abroad, citizens may need to call customer service numbers, helpdesks or insurance companies. While these services are generally free of charge or with limited charges when phoning from home, consumers are often faced with additional costs and bill shocks when dialling in from abroad. From now on, operators are obliged to adequately inform their customers about such extra charges when abroad, so that they can make informed choices about using such services.
Travellers may face surprising high bills when their phone connects to non-terrestrial networks, for example if they are on a plane or on a boat. The new regulation guarantees better information and an automatic interruption of such services when the bill reaches a cost of €50, or another predefined limit. Operators may offer additional services, such as the possibility to opt out from roaming on planes and boats.
4. 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.
5. Next steps
The rules are set to enter into force on 1 July 2022, in time to ensure continued ‘Roam like at home’ benefits for citizens. The Commission should also evaluate the measures on intra-EU communications (calls and SMS from the home country to another Member State) and verify whether and to what extent there is an ongoing need to reduce caps to protect consumers.