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West Balkans to End Roaming Fees

In southeastern Europe, the days of shockingly high roaming charges are numbered.

5 April 2019

As Britons prepare for the return of those pesky roaming charges once the country leaves the European Union, travelers in the western Balkans will soon be able to call, text, and surf at no extra cost.

 

The six non-EU Balkan countries agreed yesterday to abolish roaming fees in 2021. The cuts will be phased starting on 1 July, according to the agreement signed during the during the Western Balkans Digital Summit in Belgrade, SEE News reports.

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia began lowering roaming fees in 2015, so the initial cut in those countries will be 27 percent. In Albania the reduction will be a dramatic 85 percent.

 

Starting in July, mobile calls will cost 19 eurocents per minute, an SMS will cost 6 cents, and one megabyte of internet data will cost 2.5 cents, Balkan Insight writes.

 

The European commissioner in charge of digital matters, Mariya Gabriel, said the deal proves there is political will for a digital transformation in the region, European Western Balkans writes.

 

The Tirana Times notes that several of the six countries are candidates for EU membership and so could eventually have to abolish roaming charges completely to comply with union rules.

 

 

  • Roaming costs in the Balkans were at one time up to six times higher than in Western Europe. Serbia’s refusal to recognize the independence of Kosovo complicated efforts to achieve a region-wide agreement on cutting them, Balkan Insight says.

 

  • The EU would like to see roaming abolished in the six Eastern Partnership countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, the head of the EU division dealing with the Eastern Partnership, Boris Iarochevitch, told Agenda.ge in 2017. “If you travel in the Eastern Partnership countries or from the countries to Europe the roaming tariff is very high,” he said.

 

  • The EU began phasing out roaming charges in 2006 and ended them altogether in 2017.
Compiled by Ky Krauthamer
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