As of 15 May, a new maximum price will apply for all international calls and SMS within the EU. As a result, consumers calling from their country to another EU country will pay a maximum amount of 19 cents per minute (+VAT) and 6 cents per SMS message (+VAT).
Following the end of roaming charges in June 2017, these new price caps for international calls and SMS in the 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).
Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: “The price caps for calls within the EU is 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.”
The new rules for international calls tackle large price discrepancies that previously existed between Member States. On average, the standard price of a fixed or mobile intra-EU call was three times higher than the standard price of a domestic call, and the standard price of an intra-EU SMS message more than twice as expensive as 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.
A new Eurobarometer survey on international calls shows that four in ten respondents (42%) have contacted someone in another EU country in the past month. 26% of the respondents said they used landline, mobile phone, or SMS to reach someone in another EU country.
Telecoms operators across the EU will have to notify the consumers of the new price caps. The rules will apply in all 28 EU countries as of 15 May and soon also in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The maximum price is capped only for personal usage, i.e. for private customers. Business customers are excluded from this price regulation, given that several providers have special offers particularly attractive for business customers.
The new telecom rules pave the way for more investments in high-speed connectivity and the smooth introduction of 5G in the EU.
The European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) and the BEREC Regulation entered into force in December 2018. While the Code has to be transposed into national laws by the end of 2020, the BEREC Regulation includes different dates for application. The first rule under new telecoms rules to be in force is the cap on international calls.
Following the end of roaming charges in June 2017, Europeans now enjoy comprehensive coverage against bill shocks when calling from home and abroad.