EU all set for free roaming from June

As from 15 June, mobile users travelling to other countries in the EU will be able to call, text or surf the net without paying any extra charges. The last requirement for abolishing mobile roaming fees was met on 25 April with the adoption by the Council of the legal act that limits how much operators may charge each other to allow roaming across Europe.

“Today’s final vote in the Council clears the path for free roaming,” said Dr Emmanuel Mallia, the Maltese Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy. “When Europeans go on holiday this summer, they can enjoy the freedom of being able to stay in touch and use the internet as if they were at home. The EU is making our lives easier in very practical ways.”

Roaming without paying surcharges, or “roam like at home”, is for those living in Europe and who travel to other EU countries for work or leisure. It will also be introduced in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway shortly after 15 June.

“Roam like at home” is meant to make communicating while travelling easier. It is not intended to allow permanent roaming where a customer would take out a subscription in the cheapest possible country and use it to roam in his home country.

Special rules apply to phone plans with unlimited data and pre-paid cards. For information on these and other practical questions, see the Commission’s FAQ (link below).

The reform of EU wholesale prices adopted today was a practical and legal prerequisite for the end of roaming as laid down in the roaming regulation from 2015. New wholesale caps were needed to help ensure that operators are able to offer surcharge-free roaming to their customers without increasing prices at home.

Since the European Parliament already approved the wholesale regulation on 6 April, today’s go-ahead from the Council is the last legal step before the text is signed by both institutions in mid-May and published in the EU Official Journal by the end of May. It will then enter into force three days after its publication. This means that the 15 June 2017 deadline will be met and “roam like at home” can begin.

For more information on the wholesale reform and the agreed wholesale caps, see our press release of 31 January 2017 (link below).