Representation in United Kingdom

Cheaper international calls in the EU from 15 May

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roaming

From 15 May, consumers calling from their home country to another EU country will pay no more than 19 cents per minute (16 p) plus VAT for a voice call and no more than 6 euro cents (5 p) plus VAT for a text message. Following the end of roaming charges in June 2017, these new price caps for international calls and text messages within the EU are part of the EU-wide overhaul of telecoms rules that will also enhance the deployment of 5G networks and of new, high-capacity fixed networks.

13/05/2019

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: “The price caps for calls within the EU are a concrete example on how the Digital Single Market makes a difference to people, in their daily lives. In fact, building a Digital Single Market has created 35 new digital rights and freedoms. Overall the new telecoms rules will help the EU to meet growing connectivity needs of Europeans and boost the EU's competitiveness.”

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said: “After abolishing roaming charges in 2017, the EU has now taken measures against excessive charges for cross-border calls from home. Thanks to these two actions, European consumers are now comprehensively covered against bill shocks when calling any European number, both at home and abroad. It's one of the many concrete achievements of the Digital Single Market.”

Currently, before the caps enter in force, the standard price of a fixed or mobile intra-EU voice call is on average three times higher than the standard price of a domestic voice call while the standard price of an intra-EU text message is more than twice the price of a domestic one. In some cases the standard price of an intra-EU call can be up to ten times higher than the standard price for domestic calls.

Study on intra-EU calls

The new rules apply in the all 28 EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

For calls and text messages originating in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein the rules will be applicable as soon as they are incorporated in the European Economic Area agreement.

Operators must offer price caps for international calls and text messages by default. Consumers should automatically benefit from the new tariff once it enters into force, without any further action on their part. The operators are obliged to notify them of the new tariff prices. They will choose how they contact their customers (e.g. by SMS or email).

If consumers have a package that includes a fixed volume of international calls and/or text messages in the EU for a set price, then the price cap is not applicable. However, if consumers consider that their bundle no longer offers the best value for money they can always switch to a per-minute tariff for intra-EU calls and text messages, after the new price caps enter in force.

The maximum price is capped only for personal use, i.e. for private customers. Business customers are excluded from this price regulation because several providers have special offers particularly attractive for business customers.

Intra-EU international calls and roaming

Roaming is when you are using your mobile phone while travelling in another country. Since 15 June 2017, EU citizens can roam at domestic prices when travelling in the EU. People can use their mobiles abroad in the EU at no extra cost. This roam like at home principle is valid for any calls, text messages as well as data use: the tariffs that apply remain the same as when the person is home.

More information on the exact conditions is available here.

International calls and text messages (so-called intra-EU communications) mean calling a phone number in another EU country from domestic mobile or fixed phone while consumers are at home. Note that as soon as they are abroad, their calls are roaming calls, subject to the EU roaming rules, which means charged as a domestic phone call, even if they call a phone number of another member state.

EU telecoms reform

The price caps for calls within EU are part of the EU-wide overhaul of telecoms rules to strengthen coordination of electronic communications and enhance the role of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).

Among other things the new telecoms rules:

  • Enhance the deployment of 5G networks by ensuring the availability of 5G radio spectrum by end of 2020 in the EU and providing operators with predictability for at least 20 years in terms of spectrum licensing, including on the basis of better coordination of planned radio spectrum assignments.
  • Facilitate the roll-out of new, very high capacity fixed networks by:
  • introducing clear rules for joint investments and promoting risk sharing;
  • promoting sustainable competition, especially regarding wiring, ducts and cables inside buildings;
  • creating specific regulatory regime for wholesale-only operators (operators which sell their services only on the wholesale market and have no retail offers).
  • Benefit and protect consumers, irrespective of whether end-users communicate through traditional (calls, text messages) or web-based services (Skype, WhatsApp, etc.)