Roaming tariffs to be removed among Balkan countries

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 30, 2019 12:22

Roaming tariffs to be removed among Balkan countries

Story Highlights

  • In the Second Digital Summit in Belgrade, the countries of the Balkan region are expected to sign an agreement to remove the roaming tariffs. The tariffs will be drastically reduced starting July 1, 2019, and by July 2021 the tariffs are expected to have indefinitely removed.

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TIRANA, March 27- Following suit from the news that Albania and Kosovo will be removing their roaming tariffs in May in accordance to EU requests, this move is expected to happen with the rest of the Balkan countries in a signed agreement on April 4 during the Second Digital Summit in Belgrade. The countries attending will be Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia.

The roaming tariffs implies telecommunications and mobile service that citizens receive from their home operator while in another country. However, these tariffs are normally twice the price from what a customer normally pays in his home country. So, the roaming tariffs removal would mean not having to buy extra pricey credit when traveling to any of these Balkan countries that will sign the agreement.

Kosovo Minister of Economic Development Valdrin Lluka who will attending the Summit, said for Radio Free Europe that Kosovo is ready and has finished all the necessary procedures for this agreement. Lluka added that with this package there will be lowering in roaming tariffs amongst the Balkan countries which on its behalf will provide the deepening of cooperation and will serve as a communications bridge between the citizens of these countries.

The agreement in general with the entire roaming tariffs removal is expected to have finished its implementation by July 2021, however the roaming tariffs reductions will start to enact as of July 1 of this year. Lluka said that as of 2021 the reductions will be obligatory.

“For example, during the transition period a one-minute dial will cost 0.19 cents, a SMS will cost 0.6 cents, and mobile internet network will cost 2.5 cents per megabyte. In the next year these costs will be further reduced, until their entire elimination by 2021.

These procedure of removing the telecommunications tariffs in the Western Balkan countries has been requested by the EU, as a facilitating form of communication amongst the citizens. Telecommunications experts are enthusiastic for this agreement to be signed and have claimed that it is only on the beneficence of the citizens. Many of these Balkans countries are candidates for EU membership, and these tariffs will have to be eventually removed. EU has removed the roaming tariffs amongst its member states since 2007.  

In April 2018 in the First Digital Summit that was help in Skopje, the price reduction of roaming tariffs between the Balkan countries was already forecasted. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has said that the taxes imposed on Serbian goods by Pristina authorities hasn’t really affected the trade between Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, but its has risked the regional agreements that are planned to be signed. PM Brnabic emphasized on the roaming agreement through these claim.

“How can new agreements be signed when old ones aren’t respected,” said Brnabic during a media conference on the end of February.

Minister Lluka on the other hand said that the tax on Serbian goods should not impact in this initiative as it is a regional consensus. He added that the roaming arrangement should be done in a technical level with the accordance of countries’ Ministers so that it can actually happen and that citizens won’t be affected due to higher order policies. Lluka said that his was invited by the EU Commissioner of Digital Economy Mariya Gabriel who leads this process, thus he said that the Belgrade authorities won’t be precluding the Kosovo delegation in the summit.

“I have also been in contact with the Serbian party for the visit arrangements. I have confirmed the scheduled time of arriving at the border of Merdare, we have also confirmed the number of people attending there, and have also provided detailed information for each person as requested by the Serbian party,” said Lluka.

He said that there won’t be any issues faced as the hotel reservations for all the delegations including Kosovo, have also been confirmed. The accompaniment of the Kosovo delegation towards their hotel from the Serbian authorities have also been confirmed. He said that so far no issue has occurred, and he is expected to arrive on Belgrade on April 3.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 30, 2019 12:22