Western Balkans scrap roaming tariffs

Western Balkans scrap roaming tariffs
By bne IntelliNews July 1, 2021

The six Western Balkan states lifted roaming tariffs for the region starting from July 1, implementing the last step of an agreement signed two years ago.

The removal of roaming tariffs follows efforts at boosting regional cooperation in trade and investment — albeit hampered by deep divisions within the region — as they each aim for eventual EU accession. 

Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia first agreed to reduce the roaming prices in 2015. The six countries signed an agreement to remove roaming charges in April 2019, and have been reducing them gradually since then.

“Today is a historic day for the region. We are eliminating barriers, borders, and mobile phone roaming tariffs,” wrote secretary-general of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Majlinda Bregu in an op-ed published by the RCC. 

“The Balkans tomorrow will be roam-free. It is just the first step. What the RCC has succeeded in doing with mobile phones, we hope to do with people and businesses in the Balkans. We are working hard on opening borders, eliminating tariffs, increasing trade, and making it so not just for mobile phones, but also for people so they can travel and work without restrictions. Tomorrow we will be much closer to our common regional goals.”

North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev assessed the removal of tariffs as a success for the region inspired by the European Union.

Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Tatjana Matic said the application of "roam like home" tariffs for the territory of the Western Balkans will allow users to talk, send SMS messages and use mobile data across networks, without worrying about potentially high bills for mobile telephony services. 

She noted that the agreement is a “joint step forward of the region and that it will contribute to stronger economic exchange in all sectors”, said a government statement.

According to Montenegro’s telecommunications regulator, EKIP, the removal of roaming tariffs will not increase prices within the country.