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BELGRADE (Serbia), July 2 (SeeNews) - The Western Balkans' regional roaming agreement took effect on Monday, the European Commission said.
Consumers in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia will see a substantial reduction of their roaming charges within the region, with calls becoming up to eight times cheaper and costs for data per megabyte (MB) dropping on average from 3 euro ($3.39) to 0.20 euro, the Commission said in a statement on Monday.
The agreement is the first step towards the introduction of “roam like at home” within the region, with further reductions of roaming charges expected as of January 1, 2020, the EU's executive body said.
"The regional roaming agreement is an important signal of tangible regional cooperation and integration and I am satisfied that the European Commission was able to support this process with expertise gained from our own experience in introducing the EU roam like at home rules," the commissioner for the digital economy and society, Mariya Gabriel, said. "I welcome the political commitment shown by all across the region in negotiating and implementing this agreement on time. This agreement has a major objective the best interests of the citizens and businesses in the Western Balkans,"
On April 4, the countries of the Western Balkans signed an agreement to abolish roaming charges in 2021. Under the agreement, a transition period will start on July 1, 2019 when the roaming fees for calls between Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia will be lowered by 27%, while for Albania the reduction will be 85%.
The prices for a minute of call between the countries will be up to 22.4 Serbian dinars ($0.21/0.19 euro), the maximum price for an SMS will be 7 dinars and the highest price for data transfer will be 21.4 dinars, the government in Belgrade said in April.
At the end of 2014, the telecommunications regulators of Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and North Macedonia signed an agreement to reduce roaming charges for their citizens. The lower roaming fee was introduced on June 30, 2015.
(1 euro = 117.800 dinars)