The European Union has confirmed that roaming charges for British visitors to the EU and vice versa will return in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
All roaming fees were abolished across the EU in June 2017 following several years of price cuts, as per European law. However, these regulations will not automatically apply should the UK crash out of the EU without an agreement.
The UK government had already warned that mobile operators would not be obliged to offer tariff-free roaming should a deal not be reached, and this has now been echoed by European counterparts.
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EU Brexit Roaming
The EU says it has now completed its ‘No Deal’ preparations and is informing EU citizens on the consequences of a failure to each a withdrawal agreement. Originally set for March 29, a ‘No Deal’ scenario will now take effect on April 12 following Prime Minister Theresa May’s request for an extension to Article 50 last week.
Should the Withdrawal Agreement be approved by MPs this week, then Brexit would take place on 22 May. In this case, existing roaming legislation would remain in place during a transition period. There is also the possibility that Article 50 could be extended further.
However, the EU views ‘No Deal’ as “increasingly likely” and has issued guidance on how this will impact citizens and businesses.
“Companies providing mobile communications services, such as voice calls, text messages or data will no longer be bound by EU roaming rules when operating in the UK,” it said. “This means these companies may apply surcharges to UK customers using roaming services in the EU and to EU citizens using roaming services in the UK.”
In theory, this means operators will no longer be required to offer roaming services at a regulated rate and this could be passed onto customers. However, there is nothing to stop individual operators negotiating their own wholesale rates with foreign counterparts.
Three has already confirmed it will not charge for roaming in the event of a No Deal Brexit, while Vodafone has operations in several major European economies. It is also possible that European operators will offer British networks access to their services in exchange for a similar arrangement for their own customers.
After all, European mobile users have also become accustomed to using their phones in the UK without paying extra.
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