The EU is set to introduce a price cap on international calls and texts between Member States as part of its Digital Single Market initiative.
The new maximum price will come into effect this Wednesday, 15 May and caps the cost of calls between Member States at 19 cents per minute plus VAT; while SMS messages will be capped at 6 cents per message plus VAT. The cap follows the EU-wide abolition of roaming charges in June 2017 and forms part of a wider effort on the part of the EU to entrench coordination on electronic communications across the bloc. It will apply exclusively to private customers, as businesses are subject to different rules; and is expected to be extended to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway shortly.
Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said: “The price caps for calls within the EU is a concrete example on how the Digital Single Market makes a difference to people, in their daily lives. In fact, building a Digital Single Market has created 35 new digital rights and freedoms. Overall the new telecoms rules will help the EU to meet growing connectivity needs of Europeans and boost the EU’s competitiveness.”
Before the introduction of an EU phone call price cap, the cost of international calls varied drastically between Member States. Research conducted on behalf of the European Commission in 2018 found the standard cost of a phone call between Member States to be on average three times higher than that of a domestic call; while SMS messages were found to cost more than twice as much internationally as domestically.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said: “After abolishing roaming charges in 2017, the EU has now taken measures against excessive charges for cross-border calls from home. Thanks to these two actions, European consumers are now comprehensively covered against bill shocks when calling any European number, both at home and abroad. It’s one of the many concrete achievements of the Digital Single Market.”