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EU Commissioner Confident Of Reduction Of Roaming Charges For Eastern Partners

Johannes Hahn, the EU's commissioner for neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations

BRUSSELS -- Johannes Hahn, the EU's European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations commissioner, says he is working on lowering the roaming tariffs between the EU and Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, and is aiming for their eventual abolition.

Hahn told RFE/RL on November 16 that it is up to politicians to strike a deal with mobile phone operators but added, “I am convinced we are also able to find solutions or at least to have a step-by-step approach to a further or a future reduction of roaming charges.”

However, Hahn was reluctant to commit to a timeline, arguing that “this is not possible because it depends on [mobile phone] companies, but I am committed to working on this.”

Roaming charges withing the European Union were abolished on June 15 after nearly a decade of negotiations between the 28-member bloc and the major mobile-phone operators, and officials from three of the EU's Eastern Partnership countries -- Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine -- have been pressing for a similar deal.

A draft declaration seen by RFE/RL, which is slated to be adopted by leaders of the EU and the six Eastern Partnership member states at a November 24 summit in Brussels, states that, by 2020, the 28-member bloc will “focus on supporting the Eastern Partners in harmonizing spectrum allocation and roaming pricing.”

The Eastern Partnership was established in 2009 to deepen EU ties with six Eastern European partners -- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine -- without committing to the member states' eventual membership in the bloc.

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.