After years and years, all the mobile operators have to remove the roaming charges in the EU starting on 15 June. Although you can use Internet abroad, do not get trapped.
Have you got a message over the past days from your mobile operator? If so, it was probably a very good news, which does not often happen. The mobile companies indeed had no choice. Starting on 15 June, you cannot be charged for EU roaming if you travel within the EU. What does it actually mean?
How did it happen?
The story of roaming charges has been at the core of the debate for years. The consumers indeed used to complain, as they had to pay for Internet connection or calls and SMS when they were using their phone abroad.
The European Commission then decided to tackle this issue. Although it was very hard, as some Member States lobbied in order to avoid such a measure, the EU institutions finally got a deal last year, which provided the roaming charges should come to an end as of 15 June.
How does it work?
The roaming charges used to be applied when you were abroad. To make it clear, if you have a Belgian subscription and you pay about 20€ for 2 hours and a half of call + SMS + 2 GB of Internet, you will not pay more if you go on Facebook or Twitter in France. You also can text or call someone in Belgium, and you will be charged as if you were calling this person from Brussels.
It is definitely a very good news if you think about the times you got lost without Internet abroad.
What are the tricky points?
It is worth to be content with the deal however you should still pay attention while using your smart phone.
First of all, the end of roaming charges only applies to the EU countries. If you travel to Argentina or New-Zealand, you will still be out of money after a couple of days if you decide to call your friends.
It then does not mean you can call your relatives in Italy, Portugal, Poland or Greece. You will indeed not be charged if you travel to Germany and you call your Belgian friends. But if you decide to call your Irish parents from Belgium, you will pay more as you have an international call. End of roaming charges means wherever you are in the EU, you will pay the same price as if you were in Belgium. If you call a Belgian number in the Netherlands, you will therefore pay as if you were calling a Belgian number from Belgium. But if you are in France and you call a Spanish number with your Belgian phone, you will then be charged as if you were calling a Spanish number from Belgium.
And finally, do not look for cheaper subscription abroad to try to avoid the Belgian prices, it will be useless. The Member States indeed lobbied quite a lot during the negotiations with the European Parliament and the European Commission. They did not want the Dutch citizens to leave their subscription to purchase a Croatian one and then go back to the Netherlands to use a Croatian number. The time you spend abroad should then be “reasonable” and your operator can overcharge you if it considers you do not use your national subscription reasonably. The issue is there is no provision on that point and the operator is free to decide what the threshold is.
In a nutshell, it is good news, as you can travel across the EU and keep in touch with your friends leaving in Belgium, as well as you can use Internet. But have a look at the different points if you do not want to pay more then foreseen.