At the EU-Western Balkans Summit held in Tirana today, the telecommunications operators from the European Union (EU) and the Western Balkans signed a Roaming Declaration enabling the reduction of the roaming charges between the EU and the Western Balkans as of 1 October 2023.
Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, said:
“I welcome the declaration signed today by the EU and Western Balkans telecom operators and their commitment to start the first reductions in October 2023.
Digital transition for the EU and its partners is at the forefront of our Connectivity agenda. Making mobile telecommunication services affordable and accessible is fundamental to this transition. As we are reducing roaming charges between the EU and the region, we bring people and businesses closer together. Our objective is that when you visit us or when we visit you, we all feel more and more at home. This is the real integration of the Western Balkans we should all work for.”
This is the start of the process aiming to achieve a substantial reduction of roaming charges for data on 1 October 2023 and further reductions leading to prices close to the domestic prices. Every Western Balkan and EU telecommunications operator, signatory of the Declaration, will consider introducing retail rate plans and options, with lower charges for their roaming users in other mobile networks with the first significant reduction of data roaming prices as of 1 October 2023.
It is important that policy-makers in the Western Balkans accelerate the implementation of policy reforms in the telecom sector, which are in line with the conclusions of the Western Balkans Digital Summit 2022, with the aim of creating a Common Regional Market of the Western Balkans and a more conducive business environment. Western Balkan economies should implement these policy reforms no later than the end of 2023.
Building on the success of the Roam Like at Home regimes in both the EU and the Western Balkans, the purpose of this endeavor is to support mobility and simplify connectivity of citizens and businesses of the EU and Western Balkans.
The benefits are manifold. This will reduce cost of roaming for citizens in all of the Western Balkans and the EU while travelling in the region and EU as well as lower business operating costs and encourage doing business outside of their own borders. This initiative is remarkable, especially since it has been done on voluntary basis between telecommunications operators.
This Declaration is the result of the strong engagement of the EU and Western Balkans telecommunications operators and the support of the European Commission, Regional Cooperation Council, as well as region’s authorities commitment since the entry into force of the Western Balkans Regional Roaming Agreement. Other telecommunication operators both from the EU and the Western Balkans are invited to join the initiative.
- Publication date
- 6 December 2022
- Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations