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Western Balkans Eliminate Roaming Charges, Taking Step Toward 'Digital Transformation'


A passenger checks her mobile phone at Belgrade's Nikola Tesla airport.

Six Balkan countries on July 1 dropped roaming charges for calls and text messages for all mobile-phone users across the region in a step toward regional integration.

Nearly 18 million citizens of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia will now benefit from the elimination of roaming charges during travel within the region, providing tangible results from cooperation.

The six states had agreed on the policy in April 2019, bringing the region’s policy in line with the European Union, which eliminated roaming charges within the bloc in June 2017.

"This is a historic achievement of cooperation amongst the telecom ministries and independent regulators of the region, supported by the European Commission, and a stepping stone in the digital transformation of the region," the EU executive said.

The free roaming zone will improve mobility, cooperation, regional development, and integration, EU Commissioner for Innovation Mariya Gabriel said.

As a next step, the six countries will prepare a road map to reduce and eventually eliminate roaming charges with EU member states.

Western Balkan countries are at different stages of integrating with the European Union.

Montenegro and Serbia are the most advanced, having opened accession negotiations and chapters.

Albania and North Macedonia are awaiting the official opening of accession talks, while Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo are potential candidate countries.

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