Today, the “Roam Like at Home” regime in the Western Balkans enters into force. From 1 July, all roaming costs within the region will be eliminated. This is a historic achievement of cooperation amongst the telecom Ministries and Independent Regulators of the region, supported by the European Commission, and a stepping-stone in the digital transformation of the region.
„I take pride in the fact that the European Union mediated and supported signing of this Agreement in 2019 by all Western Balkans economies, modelled after the EU’s ‘Roam Like at Home’ regime which has also abolished fees among member states. By demonstrating the political will to sign the Agreement, Serbia and the region has shown leadership and political resolve to cooperate and jointly overcome differences, borders, barriers and lockdowns, becoming proponents of the true digital transformation. This is a great day for everybody in this region and a great opportunity for the people to stay connected. I am proud that the EU has contributed to this,” says Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Head of the EU Delegation in Serbia, Mateja Norčič Štamcar.
The benefits this Agreement brought in the previous, gradual cost-reduction phases from July 2019 until today were tangible across the region, leading to a significant cost reduction of roaming, cross-border calls, messaging and data transmission, thus supporting individual users, businesses and operators alike and strengthening intra-regional digital connectivity. For example, in 2018, a user of Serbian mobile operator would pay around 600 dinars for placing a photo on social media networks from holidays in Montenegro; in 2019, the cost was reduced to around 40 dinars; while as of today it bears no additional costs. Total elimination of roaming charges happening from today is expected to further enable easier communication and doing business in the region.
Setting up a roaming free zone is also a significant step of the Western Balkans in aligning with the EU Digital Single Market principles and practices. The next step will be the preparation of a roadmap for the reduction of roaming charges between the EU member states and the Western Balkans.