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MEPs Demand End to Roaming Charges for Western Balkans

More than 80 European Parliamentarians have urged the European Commission to abolish roaming charges for Western Balkan countries in a letter sent to President Ursula von der Leyen.

A group of more than 80 members of the European Parliament has asked the European Commission to include the Western Balkan countries in the Free Roaming Area.

In a letter sent to Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, the MEPs say that the Western Balkan states are proven “reliable partners of the European Union”, and that with October’s European Commission recommendation to grant candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina, “another milestone in the union’s enlargement policy has been reached”.

“We… therefore call on the European Commission to quickly present a clear roadmap aimed at ending roaming surcharges between the European Union and the Western Balkans, thereby enlarging the European Free-Roaming Area for the benefit of European citizens. The time to act is now,” the letter says.

MEPs say this move should come after Von der Leyen’s September 14 address to the European Parliament, when she pledged to bring Ukraine into the European free-roaming area.

“While you have our full support for this endeavour, we would also like to draw your attention to another European region that deserves to benefit from free roaming, namely the countries of the Western Balkans.”

Thomas Waitz, MEP and co-chair of the European Green Party, said the Commission should contribute to stronger integration by creating a European free-roaming area that includes the Western Balkans.

“We urgently need closer integration of the Western Balkan countries and the EU, and one step for this would be tearing down roaming barriers,” Waitz said.

“This will not only help to close the gap towards the EU but also acknowledge the daily hurdles citizens of the Western Balkans who live and work in the EU, often away from their families, face due to expensive roaming surcharges,” he added.

In 2017, the European Union announced that it was considering cutting roaming charges for the Western Balkans, following calls from EU candidate countries to abolish the fees.

Since July last year, six countries of Western Balkans abolished roaming charges in accordance with the Regional Roaming Agreement signed in 2019 at the second Western Balkans Digital Summit in Belgrade.

Source: Balkan Insight