European Parliament sets caps on international calls and SMS

When visiting another Member State, European Union citizens have enjoyed roaming services at the same price as at home since 2017. However, with the new telecom rules, calls and texts between EU countries will also become cheaper. Expats will especially benefit from these caps, and they will have fewer excuses to call home!

How will it work?

Starting on May, 15, calls and SMS (both landline and mobile) will be capped at a maximum of 19 cents per minute and 6 cents per SMS. Local VAT taxes must be added to this price, but this measure will prevent rising costs of company rates. Free movement of people and workers is one of the defining pillars of the European Union. With around 4% of EU citizens living in another Member State, the price cap is expected to help many.

Does it apply to everyone?

Business customers cannot count themselves so lucky, as the measure only applies to personal use. The EU argues that companies already benefit from numerous attractive offers. Price caps are also not applicable to consumers with bundle services that have paid for a fixed volume.

What are the benefits?

Citizens of the 28 member states will certainly enjoy friendlier phone bills. However, the new measures go beyond that.

The European Electronic Communications Code seeks to improve user data protection on communication apps such as Skype or WhatsApp, placing greater demands on security and encryption. Phone owners will also be better protected against contract termination, and will now be able to recover credits from their prepaid cards when they cancel a subscription.

Protection also includes:

  • Promotion of transparency
  • Hacking and malware prevention
  • Compensation for delays when changing providers
  • Protection in emergency situations (public warnings on mobile phones)

Why now?

The new maximum price policy can be explained by the EU’s attempts to nurture and shape a Digital Single Market (DSM). The DSM aims at fair competition, universal access to online services and greater user protection. The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications is tasked with establishing an EU regulatory framework for these matters. To this end, the Commission adopted a comprehensive strategy in May 2015. The latest range of measures falls under one of the body’s main objectives for 2018-2020: “empowering and protecting end users.”   

What to expect

Users will be notified of the change in policy by their providers, who are obliged to inform them and to comply with the new rules. Starting tomorrow, citizens and expats alike won’t have to think twice next time they pick up the phone.

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