Why roaming was inevitable

Businessman in airport with mobile phone

Calling your family to tell them that you landed safely or sending a picture of a beach to your friends is commonplace nowadays. Since the introduction five years ago of 'Roam Like At Home’, citizens of the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein have the peace of mind that using mobile data whilst on holiday no longer results in astronomically high phone bills due to roaming surcharges. We all very quickly got used to the benefits that these new EU rules bring to our daily life. It feels natural to use our mobile phone abroad as we do at home, without any fear of prohibitive costs.

However, the current EU rules are only in place until 30 June 2022; we need to extend them, otherwise consumers will suffer higher prices, like UK citizens do due to them no longer being part of the EU.

In the European Parliament, we have seized this opportunity to make some substantial improvements and we already have a deal that even provides enough flexibility to react to new developments in the telecom and technological sectors.

A true digital communication single market is daily evidence of a successful European Union.

With the new roaming rules, Europeans will have better quality of consumer service. There will be an end to commercial practices which deliberately slow down the speed of data abroad. Consumers will be able to enjoy the same quality and same speed of data abroad as they do at home. No more frozen screens while streaming a favourite TV show or video calling friends!

With the new roaming rules, we are introducing more competitiveness to the telecom market by lowering the maximum prices that telecom operators charge each other when consumers use other networks while roaming. The level of these charges, known in the sector as wholesale caps, was high enough to prevent smaller operators from offering Roam Like At Home services in a sustainable way.

With the new roaming rules, operators will be bound to a stricter ‘fair use policy’, directed at consumers taking excessive advantage by permanently roaming because they live in another country. The new Regulation will ensure that this policy only applies under these extreme circumstances and only addresses abusive or anomalous usage of retail roaming services.

With the new roaming rules, we also have to take a new step to end surcharges for intra-EU calls when you call from your home country to another EU country. Nowadays, if you live in Germany and call a friend in Italy, you will pay a surcharge. However, if you are a resident in Germany, you are travelling in Italy and you call a friend back home in Germany, you do not pay roaming surcharges. These rules confuse consumers, but we have obtained a compromise from the European Commission to assess the situation before the end of the current provisions in 2024 and to take the next necessary steps.

For many citizens, the Roam Like At Home rules have been a foregone conclusion. From the first day, more than a decade ago, the EPP Group in the European Parliament understood this, advocated for consumers and pushed for better rules, each step of the way. We will continue to do so because a true digital communication single market is daily evidence of a successful European Union.

Note to editors

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 176 Members from all EU Member States

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