The EU will renew the “Roam Like At Home” scheme for another ten years, under plans adopted by Parliament on Thursday.
The legislation, a follow-up to the 2017 elimination of roaming surcharges and agreed between Parliament and Council in December means 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 will enjoy the same quality and speed of mobile connection abroad as at home. Roaming providers will be obliged to offer the same roaming quality to that provided domestically, if the same conditions are available on the network of the visiting country. In negotiations with Council, MEPs secured a provision in the new rules 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 and people with disabilities will have access to emergency services without any additional charge – whether by call or text message, including the transmission of caller location information. Operators will also have to provide information about the European emergency number 112.
Call for ending surcharges for intra-EU calls
During talks with member state ministers, MEPs pushed for an end to 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. The costs of intra-EU calls are currently capped at 19 cents per minute. This agreement provides for the Commission to look into this and assess whether further reductions of the caps are necessary.
Wholesale roaming charges – the price operators charge each other when their customers use other networks– will be capped at €2 per Gigabyte (from 2022 and will reduce progressively to €1 in 2027. If consumers exceed their contract limits when roaming, any additional charges cannot be higher than the wholesale roaming caps.
Lead MEP Angelika Winzig (EPP, AT) said: “Roam-like-at-home is an unprecedented European success story. It shows how we all directly benefit from the EU single market. We managed to cut costs further and improve quality of service for all European citizens and businesses. While roaming they will now experience the same quality of service and speed of data as they do at home. Deliberately slowing down data speed will not be allowed anymore. At the same time, by significantly cutting the wholesale caps, we create more fairness and competition on the telecommunications market. With this regulation we take another important step towards a true European digital single market, for a successful, strong and effective European Union of the future”.
The law, adopted with 581 votes to 2, with 5 abstentions, will now have to be formally endorsed by Council to come into force.
The Roaming Regulation established the ‘Roam-Like-At-Home’ 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.