The EU’s Bulgarian-born Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel hopes to lower roaming charges in the Western Balkans, according to a plan she put forward on March 6.
The EU’s digital connectivity to the Western Balkans is one of Bulgaria’s priorities while serving in the rotating presidency of the EU Council, according to a press release from the European People’s Party.
Air, transport, and educational connectivity are also areas Bulgaria wants to achieve results in.
Roaming charges are high for customers in the area of the Western Balkans. A Bulgarian mobile subscriber who is in FYROM/Macedonia pays almost €15 per megabyte of mobile internet use and €3 per minute to call.
Commission representatives and Western Balkans telecom companies have discussed ways of lowering the roaming charges and might explore options that would include voluntary commercial agreements between the two entities.
In June, a law went into effect to force telecom companies to halt roaming fees for consumers travelling between countries in the EU. Companies that continue to violate the provision face hefty fines if they continue to charge customers under the old scheme.
Gabriel, for her part, hopes the process of lowering roaming charges for the Western Balkans will not take as long to complete as for the rest of the European Union, took almost 10 years of negotiations to finally pass. That debate sparked disagreement between providers, member states. and MEPs that continue to this day.