EU extends and significantly improves roaming rules

Go on vacation and don’t worry about possible cell phone costs. EU roaming makes it possible and allows smartphone use within the EU as in one’s own country. It is now clear that roaming charges, which were abolished in 2017, will continue to apply.

Roaming costs 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 without additional costs 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

Last year, the EU Commission already advocated an extension of the current EU roaming rules. In February 2021, the members drew up a corresponding new version of the Roaming Regulation. The agreement was already reached in December. The plan: EU citizens are to 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 down-throttling will thus be 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 have now been confirmed by the Council of EU states as well as the European Parliament at the beginning of April 2022. The new regulations officially come into force on July 1 and replace the existing requirements.

Special case Great Britain

The UK has been part of neither the EU nor the European Economic Area (EEA) since January 2021. 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 on British networks. Conversely, citizens from the United Kingdom 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 costs. Neither Deutsche 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 United Kingdom. This is not expected to change for the time being, as atechbook learned when asked.

With material from dpa