Today June the 15th May seems a regular day of suffocating hot in Milan and the rest of Europe (maybe without the “suffocating” part, though), but actually it is not.
In fact, today marks the formal end to any roaming charge across European countries. That might seem a rather small accomplishment and some of you may even think: “why did they take so much time for such thing?”; however, it represents the turning point in a decade long process of convergence of roaming costs, started in 2007. Back then, the Commission started its work to reduce roaming charges across European Member States and in 2015 it finally crowned the process with the plan to allow all European citizens to use their domestic prices from any place in the Union. That plan has finally come into force and from today onward we will be free to make calls, send messages and use the data without any extra charge.
The “Roam Like at Home” plan is part of the broader strategy of achieving the digital single market, that has as objective the end of all barriers to the free circulation of online information. Indeed, as part of the same strategy, in the next 6 months we will also be able to experience the end of the “geo-blocking”, that is, put in very simple words, what prevents us from enjoying online streaming services (like Netflix or Spotify) when we are abroad (or that prevents us from using foreign versions of Amazon).
However, there are some things that must be specified if we don’t want to find some extra charges in our bills.
First, the policy will regard only European Member States, comprised the United Kingdoms, plus some other countries (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) that have signed individual agreements with the EU. Non-European countries won’t have the benefits of this plan, like Albania, Switzerland and St. Marino, so be careful when you travel nearby them. For the UK, although it is comprised in the plan for now, its compliance in the future will depend on the negotiations with the EU and whether they will agree on such a point.
Second, phone companies will likely put a cap on the level of data you will be able to use abroad without having extra charges, and that will likely be lower than your domestic plan. However, they will have to inform you about any different pricing policy or any extra cost for data used above a certain limit.
In conclusion, today’s achievement represents a small pace in the European integrating process, but might be very important for MS’s citizens that are travelling across the EU, as they will have the impression of never leaving their homeland, that is what the European project is all about.