European Union roaming regulations
|European Union directive|
|Made by||European Parliament & Council|
|Amends||regulation (EEC) No 717/2007|
European Union roaming regulations (sometimes called the Eurotariff) regulate the imposition of roaming charges within the European Union. They regulate both the charges a mobile network operator can impose on its subscribers for using telephone and data services outside of the network's member state, and the wholesale rates networks can charge each other to allow their subscribers access to each other's networks.
Since 2007, the roaming regulations have steadily lowered the maximum roaming charges allowable. A proposed regulation, which has passed the European parliament in April 2014 but still needs to be approved by the Council of the European Union, proposes to abolish end-user roaming charges in the EU. While originally proposed to go into effect in December 2015, the change has proven controversial, and the latest proposal as of June 2015 has a June 2017 effect date.
- 1 Background
- 2 Territorial extent
- 3 Prices
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The European Commission has often raised the issue of high roaming charges within the European Union. In October 2005, the European Commission launched a consumer website on roaming tariffs in order to highlight the issue, which included €12 for a 4-minute call.
In 2006, when high roaming charge rates persisted the Commission proposed to intervene in the market by setting maximum rates at which mobile network operators could charge their subscribers. The proposed regulation was approved by the European Parliament and by the Council of Ministers, and came into law in June 2007. It required capping of retail and wholesale voice roaming charges from 30 August 2007, unless a special roaming tariff applied. The maximum prices was set to decrease further in 2008 and 2009. The regulation also required that customers traveling to another member state would receive a text message of the charges that apply for roaming services. Originally the capping measures were introduced on a temporary basis and were due to expire on 30 June 2010.
The law was amended in 2009 based on a review carried out under the 2007 regulation. The expiry date of the 2007 regulation was extended to 30 June 2012 and was extended to text messages and data roaming. It also provided for further annual reductions in the price capping until the expiry of the regulation and for compulsory per-second billing after 30 seconds for calls made, and per-second billing throughout for calls received.
Having still found that market conditions did not justify lifting the capping of roaming within the EU, the EU replaced the law in 2012. Under the 2012 regulation retail roaming capping charges are due to expire in 2017 and wholesale capping charges are due to expire in 2022.
Proposal to abolish all roaming charges
In 2013 the Commission proposed to establish a single market for electronic communications within the Union and to abolish roaming charges. The proposal was approved by the European Parliament on 3 April 2014, by a margin of 534 votes to 25. As drafted it would have ended roaming charges from 15 December 2015. The Council of the European Union has to approve legislation before it can take effect, and ended up rejecting the specifics of the proposed legislation.
Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 which was adopted on 25 November 2015 provides for the phased reduction of roaming charges within the European Union. As a transitional measure, from May 2016 the current price capping for roaming within the EU will be replaced by a maximum surcharge for roaming services which may be charged in addition to domestic charges. This however will not increase the cost of roaming for customers whose domestic rates plus the surcharge are higher than the price caps. It will reduce the charges for consumers with lower domestic prices or who pay for monthly allowances for using a particular service.
The Regulation also requires the Commission to submit a report to the European Parliament by June 2016 along with proposed legislative for regulation of the wholesale roaming market within the EU with a view to eliminating the transitional roaming surcharges by June 2017.
Non-roaming charges for international calls/texts
The European Union roaming regulations only regulate prices while the user is roaming. Prices of calls (and text messages) when calling from your home country to another EEA country are still unregulated, and can be vastly higher than the marginal cost to the telecommunication provider. For example, it costs €0.67/minute to call from Denmark to Belgium via Oister in 2016, and the same per text message. Similarly, it costs £1.50 to call an EEA numbers from the UK while on the Vodafone UK network, vs £0.05 for calling a number in the UK while roaming in France (2016).
The European commission proposed in 2013 to regulate intra-EEA international calls, but it was rejected by the European Parliament and Council.
[In 2013] the European Commission proposed to change this situation. Its proposal for a Telecoms Single Market (TSM) Regulation (COM(2013)627), adopted on 11 September 2013, included a provision whereby providers of electronic communications to the public should not apply tariffs for intra-Union mobile communications terminating in another Member State which were higher than the Eurotariffs for regulated voice and SMS roaming communications established in Regulation (EC) No 531/2012, unless objectively justified (Article 21 of the proposal). This proposed article also provided that tariffs for fixed intra-Union communications terminating in another Member State should not exceed tariffs for domestic long-distance communications.— Vesa Terava, Head of Unit
European Union roaming regulations apply to the 28 members of the EU plus the three non-EU members of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The EU countries have applied the roaming regulation since 30 August 2007 while the EEA countries have applied it since 1 January 2008.
The regulations do not apply to Switzerland, despite close relations with the EU in several fields. Charges are considerably higher for EEA residents roaming in Switzerland, and for Swiss residents in the EEA, especially on internet data. Rates vary between €1-€10/MB. The regulations also do not apply to areas which are connected to member states but are outside the EU. Two examples with high rates for visitors are Jersey and Greenland. Despite this, a few UK networks charge for roaming in Switzerland, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man at the same rates as roaming in the EU and EEA.
All roaming charges for temporary roaming will be abolished on 15 June 2017 (fair-use rules are to be applied). The tariffs covering the period from 30 April 2016 are maximum surcharges to the price paid in the home network. Note that these prices only regulate additional costs while roaming; it is still possible for mobile network operators to e.g. charge €1 per SMS sent to an EEA member, as long as the cost of sending the same SMS while roaming is not more than €1.02 (as of 2016).
|In force from||30 Aug 2008||1 Jul 2009||1 Jul 2010||1 Jul 2011||1 Jul 2012||1 Jul 2013||1 Jul 2014||30 Apr 2016||15 Jun 2017|
|In force until||29 Aug 2008||30 Jun 2009||30 Jun 2010||30 Jun 2011||30 Jun 2012||30 Jun 2013||30 Jun 2014||29 Apr 2016||14 Jun 2017||30 Jun 2022|
|Service||Unit||Roaming limits in EEA countries
(all the prices are in euro without VAT)
|Retail caps (applies to subscribers)|
|Outgoing calls to any EEA number||price of 1 minute||0.49||0.46||0.43||0.39||0.35||0.29||0.24||0.19||home network local rate + 0.05||home network local rate|
|billing interval||Not regulated||per second starting from 31st second||home network local billing interval|
|Incoming calls from any number||price of 1 minute||0.24||0.22||0.19||0.15||0.11||0.08||0.07||0.05||0.0114||Free|
|billing interval||Not regulated||per second starting from 1st second||-|
|Incoming calls redirected to voice mail[a 1]||price of 1 minute||0.73||0.68||0.62||Free|
|Outgoing text message to any EEA number||price of 1 message||Not regulated||0.11||0.09||0.08||0.06||home network local rate + 0.02||home network local rate|
|Incoming text message from any number||price of 1 message||Not regulated||Free|
|Data transfer||price of 1 megabyte||Not regulated||0.70||0.45||0.20||home network rate + 0.05||home network rate|
|billing interval||Not regulated||per 1 kilobyte starting from 1st kilobyte||home network billing interval|
|monthly default cut-off limit||Not regulated||50.00|
|Right to choose an alternative roaming provider (ARP)[a 2]||Not regulated||Yes||Not regulated|
|Default notification text message with roaming prices and information||Not regulated||Yes|
|Free number to call for detailed roaming and information information||Not regulated||Yes|
|Free '112' access in roaming||Not regulated||Yes|
|Wholesale caps (Operator to Operator)|
|Outgoing calls to any EEA number||price of 1 minute||0.30||0.28||0.26||0.22||0.18||0.14||0.10||0.05|
|billing interval||Not regulated||per second starting from 31st second|
|Inbound calls||same as termination of a non-roaming call on the visited network, see Termination rates.[a 3]|
|Outgoing text message to any EEA number||price of 1 message||Not regulated||0.04||0.03||0.02|
|Incoming text message from any number||Not regulated||Free|
|Data transfer||price of 1 megabyte||Not regulated||1.00||0.80||0.50||0.25||0.15||0.05|
|billing interval||Not regulated||per 1 kilobyte starting from 1st kilobyte|
|Right to use other operators' networks in other Member States at regulated wholesale prices||Not regulated||Yes|
- When incoming calls are redirected to voice mail, operators can charge for message recording as much as a sum of their tariffs for incoming calls and outgoing calls back to home country. Beginning on 1 July 2010 operators cannot charge their roaming customers for the receipt by them of a roaming voice mail message. Listening to such messages could still be charged as an outgoing call in the future.
- Customer would have the option to sign for roaming contract, separate from national mobile services, while keeping the same phone number and SIM card.
- The visited network charges the same rate as it would charge for termination of a non-roaming call. This practice was already required by national regulators before the EU roaming regulations were implemented, so it is outside of the scope of this regulation.
Fair use policy
To prevent missuse (i.e. cheaper tariffs available in the eastern members to be used constantly in the western members where tariffs are higher) a fair-use policy was mandated which would allow EU citizens from using their phones while roaming without extra charges for business and leisue, but would still limit the use to prevent missuse and extra costs to mobile operators.
5 September 2016 proposal (retracted)
The initial proposal for a fair use policy has been published on 5 September 2016. It would have limited the amount of free roaming to 90 days in a calendar year and a maximum of 30 consecutive days, after which regulated roming charges (now in force) would apply. Registering in your home network on a given day would not count that day towards the limit. The proposal also stated that "the customer should nevertheless be able to consume volumes of such services equivalent to at least the average volume consumed domestically by the customers of the tariff plan in question", preventing operators from setting low call/data limits.
However, the proposal was hastily withdrawn just a couple of days after being published. Only a note on the Commission's web site remained: "An initial draft was published on 5.9.2016. The Commission services have, on the instruction of President Juncker, withdrawn the draft and are working on a new version").
The proposal was also slammed by the telco lobbyists (GSMA & ETNO) claiming it would have been "..too complex to implement and unclear for consumers." They were inclined to set the cap lower, believing a "30 consecutive days granted to each consumer within the proposal would have already covered 100% of the needs of the vast majority of European citizens." Also, legal concerns were cited stating that "In Denmark, for example, the maximum length of a contract is six months, so customers would have been able to ‘reset’ their roaming allowance twice a year."
Finally, it was suggested to come up with a new proposal that would be “easy to execute, and effectively prevent arbitrage and distortions on domestic markets” and warning by qoting the Commission that “Otherwise, network quality and investments in new capacity in some Member States could be affected.”
21 September 2016 Press release
A press release issued on 21 September (IP/16/3111) reaffirmed the end of roaming charges in the EU by 2017 stating that "there should be no limits in terms of timing or volume imposed on consumers when using their mobile devices abroad in the EU." The new mechanism, although not defined in detail, "will be based on principle of residence or stable links European consumers may have with any EU Member State." (note the "any" - meaning multiple countries). A stable link is defined as: "work commuters, expats who are frequently present in their home country or Erasmus students."
The final proposal is set to be published by 15 December 2016 following feedback from BEREC, Member States and all interested parties.
Strong safeguards for operators
1) Safeguards against abuses based on residence or permanent links to an EU country (note the singular "an" meaning - one country)
Roaming is for travellers. The new draft allows operators to check usage patterns to avoid the "Roam like at Home" mechanism is abused. A non-exhaustive list of criteria includes:
- insignificant domestic traffic compared to roaming traffic;
- long inactivity of a given SIM card associated with use mostly, if not exclusively, while roaming;
- subscription and sequential use of multiple SIM cards by the same customer while roaming.
In such cases, operators will have to alert their users. Only if these conditions are met, operators will be able to apply small surcharges (the Commission proposed a maximum of €0.04/min per call, €0.01/SMS and €0.0085/MB). In case of disagreement, complaints procedures must be put in place by the operator. If the dispute persists the customer may complain to the national regulatory authority which will settle the case.
Abuses could also be related to the mass purchase and resale of SIM cards for permanent use outside the country of the operator issuing them. In such cases, the operator will be allowed to take immediate and proportionate measures while informing the national regulator.
2) Safeguards in case of exceptional circumstances in the domestic markets:
In case of price increases on a specific market or other negative effects for their domestic customers, operators can get out of the "Roam like at Home" provision allowing them, if authorised by national regulators, to temporarily apply the same small surcharges (the Commission proposed a maximum of €0.04/min per call, €0.01/SMS and €0.0085/MB). Operators will have to provide evidence to demonstrate that "Roam like at Home" was putting their domestic charging model at risk.
For services paid for in currencies other than the euro, the amount in euro is converted to the other currency using the reference rates published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJoEU).
After the adoption of EU regulation 531/2012 the retail exchange rate to be used for the relevant year should be calculated by taking the average of the reference exchange rates published in the OJoEU on 1 March, 1 April and 1 May of that year, with the new exchange rate coming into force on 1 July of that year. The wholesale exchange rate however is taken from only the rate published on 1 May of that year.
Local price limits
Method of calculating
As the VAT rates and currencies vary across the EU and EEA, the European Commission publishes price caps in euro and excluding VAT. So the final prices for each country can be calculated by adding the corresponding VAT rate and converting to the currency of the country (if non-euro).
|For countries using the euro||For countries using currency other than euro|
|is European Commission maximum allowed tariff without VAT in euro|
|is Value Added Tax rate for specified country, given in per cent|
|is Exchange rate for specified country published by ECB|
In order to avoid double taxation, non-taxation or the distortion of competition, an EU member state may, in accordance with Article 9(3)(a) of Council Directive 77/388 ("the Sixth VAT Directive"), include within the scope of its national VAT any telecommunications services used within its territory but billed outside the EU VAT area. When opting to do so, it must also exempt from its national VAT any roaming services supplied by home networks within its territory but used outside the EU VAT area. The inclusion of telecommunications within the scope of Article 9 was requested by the United Kingdom, which subsequently enacted the change under Article 19 of the Value Added Tax (Place of Supply of Services) Order 1992. Consequently, when an EU member state makes this VAT exemption, roaming on networks in the Åland Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, the Canary Islands, Ceuta, Melilla and French overseas departments is subject to the price caps with no VAT applied, because these countries and territories are within the EEA but outside the EU VAT area.
The charge limits for the Eurotariff and the wholesale average charge should be calculated to the maximum number of decimal places permitted by the official exchange rate. This sets the maximum that can be charged in the national currency. Providers may wish in practice to quote charges in whole numbers of currency units, especially at the retail level, although this in practice is not compulsory. In this case, the numbers should be rounded down. Rounding up of these numbers to above the level of the relevant cap is not permitted under any circumstances.
- Julia Fioretti and Francesco Guarascio (26 September 2014). "EU divided over how to end mobile roaming charges". Reuters. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- Reuters Editorial (2015-06-30). "UPDATE 3-EU strikes initial deal to scrap roaming fees in 2017 | Reuters". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-01-04.
- Regulation (EC) No 717/2007.
- Regulation (EC) No 717/2007, Article 13.
- Regulation (EU) No 531/2012, Articles 8(2), 10(2) and 13(3).
- Regulation (EU) No 531/2012, Articles 7, 9, 12.
- Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent, and amending Directives 2002/20/EC, 2002/21/EC and 2002/22/EC and Regulations (EC) No 1211/2009 and (EU) No 531/2012 (COM/2013/0627 final - 2013/0309 (COD))
- Staff (2014-04-03). "MEPs vote to scrap mobile roaming fees in Europe". BBC News. BBC. Archived from the original on 2014-04-04.
- Finley, Klint (2014-03-04). "European Parliament Votes to Protect Net Neutrality, Kill Roaming Fees". Wired. Archived from the original on 2014-04-04.
- Article 6f of Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 as inserted by Article 7(5) of Regulation (EU) 2015/2120.
- Article 6e of Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 laying down measures concerning open internet access and amending Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services and Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 on roaming on public mobile communications networks within the Union ()
- Article 19(2) of Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 as amended by Article 7(5) of Regulation (EU) 2015/2120.
- Díjszabások ország szerint (In Hungarian. Switzerland=Svájc) 255 Ft/0,1 MB=€8.20/MB
- "Roaming charges and open Internet: questions and answers". European Commission. 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2016-01-04.
- "Regulation (EC) 717/2007".
- "Regulation (EC) 544/2009".
- "Regulation (EU) 531/2012".
- "Digital Agenda: Commission proposes more competition, more choice and lower prices for mobile phone users abroad - frequently asked questions" (PDF). Memos. European Union. 2011-07-06. MEMO/11/485. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-05-11.
- "OECD" (PDF). p. 28.
- "EU Official Journal No. L86, 28.3.97, p. 33".
- "International Roaming Regulation - ERG Guidelines Final Release" (PDF). BEREC/ERG. 2008-01-15. ERG(07)86rev2 081215. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-04-01.
- "International Roaming Regulation - ERG Guidelines 2nd Release" (PDF). BEREC/ERG. 2007-08-22. ERG(07)46. Archived from the original on 6 November 2013.
- Procedure File: 2013/0309(COD) - The proposed EU law which includes an abolishment of all roaming charges.