EU decides on extension of roaming rules

Go on vacation and don’t worry about potential cell phone costs. EU roaming makes it possible and allows smartphone use within the EU as in one’s own country. Now it is certain: the roaming charges that were already abolished in 2017 will continue to apply.

Roaming charges within the EU were abolished on June 15, 2017. Travelers can thus use their mobile tariff within the 27 member states as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway at no additional cost as in their own country. This is convenient and has put an end to the annoying and often expensive booking of special international options. What many people certainly didn’t know was that the “Roam like at Home” regulation, or EU roaming for short, was supposed to expire in mid-2022. But now it has been extended.

EU roaming regulation extended until 2032

Already at the beginning of the year, the EU Commission advocated an extension of the current EU roaming rules. In February, the members drew up a corresponding new version of the Roaming Regulation. Now agreement has been reached: EU citizens will thus benefit from the elimination of roaming charges for another ten years. Negotiators from the EU member states and the European Parliament agreed to extend the rules beyond the end of June 2022. This means that consumers can continue to use their cell phones to make calls, surf the Internet or send text messages while traveling at the same cost as at home.

The agreement also provides for some changes to the existing rules. For example, cell phone users abroad are to be provided with the same quality of service whenever possible. “Intentional throttling down is thus a thing of the past,” said Austrian MEP and chief parliamentary negotiator Angelika Winzig. In addition, she said, the aim is to further significantly reduce the prices that network operators charge each other for roaming. Users will also be able to contact emergency services free of charge.

All these changes still have to be confirmed by the Council of EU member states and the European Parliament, but this is considered a formality.

Special case Great Britain

Since January 2021, the UK has been part of neither the EU nor the European Economic Area (EEA). The EU roaming regulations therefore no longer have to be implemented there. Mobile providers in Austria, for example, will once again charge additional costs when citizens use their domestic rates to travel on British networks. Conversely, citizens from the UK will again incur high costs in some cases for cell phone use in the EU.

At least the German network operators have so far refrained from these additional charges. Neither Telekom, Vodafone, O2, nor any of the mobile providers operating in these networks charge surcharges when users use their rates to make calls or surf the Internet within the UK. This is not expected to change for the time being, as atechbook learned when asked.

With material from dpa