EU roaming charges have been scrapped from today, enabling customers to use their mobile at no extra cost in all 28 destinations.
It follows years of intense negotiations which started with an overall cap on chargeable fees. It was initially agreed that roaming charges would not exceed €0.05 for outgoing calls, €0.02 for every text message sent or €0.05 per megabyte of mobile internet use. The new legislation will only cover full member states and not countries such as Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Turkey, which are not part of the EU.
In a joint statement, European Parliament president Antonio Tajani, Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat (on behalf of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU) and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The end of roaming charges is a true European success story”. EE, O2, Vodafone and Three have all removed roaming charges over the last few weeks in preparation for the law – as well as MVNOs such as Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile. Three was the first to implement these changes in a number of countries with its Feel at Home package in 2013, followed by Vodafone, EE and O2 earlier this year. Three still covers the most non-EU destinations, however other networks such as EE have begun offering free roaming plans in some areas outside the European Union.
While EU roaming charges may have been scrapped, it’s still important to remember that calls and texts are not included in the new legislation. There’s also the chance that networks could introduce a ‘fair use policy’ in order to stem roaming use, which would see users subject to harsh fees if they exceed the limit while abroad in the EU. These prices could be as high as £7.80 per GB of allowance exceeded. It’s likely that this will be applied to cheaper deals with lower data allowances.