“Roam Like at Home” Regime in Force in WB Countries; EU Praises the Initiative

The “Roam Like at Home” regime has entered into force in the Western Balkans from 1 July, 2021 and all roaming costs within the region will be eliminated, a statement released by the European Commission has said.

“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,” said the statement carried by the portal ec.europa.eu.

In 2019, the Western Balkan leaders signed the Regional Roaming Agreement in Belgrade and committed to eliminating roaming charges within the region, in a bid to improve connectivity and bring tangible benefits of the regional agenda to the citizens and businesses alike. The first phase of the implementation, introduced on 1 July 2019, gradually reduced the roaming charges by over 80%, and has led to a significant increase in data traffic in the entire Western Balkan region.

“The European Commission has fully supported this process, which was facilitated by the Regional Cooperation Council, with the assistance of the Body of European Regulators, BEREC,” said the EC.

According to the Commission, 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, which the Common Regional Market agreed by the Western Balkan leaders in the Sofia Summit under the Berlin process, in November 2020 will further support.

“The next step will be the preparation of a roadmap for the reduction of roaming charges between the EU and the Western Balkans,” concluded the statement.

All the WB countries are in different stages of joining the EU as Albania and North Macedonia are waiting to start the first intergovernmental talks with the Union. A Bulgarian veto on North Macedonia has frozen the process and against this background there are supposition that Albania could start the talks separately because of the unknowns of the Skopje-Sofia dispute which can last for year as it happened with the name question in the conflict between Skopje and Athens. /argumentum.al