BRUSSELS – 38 telecommunication operators from the EU 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. This agreement aligns with the Roaming Declaration signed at the December EU-Western Balkans Summit in Tirana.
According to European Commission statement, 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. Maximum retail price levels (‘price caps’) for 1 gigabyte will decrease from October 2023 to 2028 as follows: €18 from 1 October 2023, €14 from 2026, and €9 from 2028. Yearly reviews are foreseen to assess impacts and next steps.
Ahead of the agreement, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi welcomed the signature of the voluntary agreement.
“Building on the success of the Roam Like at Home regimes in both the EU and the Western Balkans, I welcome the signature of the voluntary agreement between the 38 telecommunication operators. Lowering roaming charges between the EU and the Western Balkans from 1 October this year will bring benefits to the EU and Western Balkan citizens and businesses alike. We are committed to do our utmost to speed up the real integration of the Western Balkans into our Single Market”, Várhelyi.
Introducing the price caps is expected to decrease data roaming prices for consumers traveling between the EU and Western Balkans. 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.