However, the prices of international calls are not changed by the new regulation (a proposal Beltug had supported). So, check with your telecommunications provider to confirm what is included in your plan.

Extension of the framework

Since 2017, you have been able to use your mobile phone abroad without fearing ‘bill shock’ when you return home. Your national plan is applicable for calling, texting and accessing the internet. The new regulation ensures that this will not change till at least 2032.

You can find more details in the 2021 updated version of Beltug’s Recommendations on Corporate Policy, in the chapter on roaming. It provides an overview of the EEA countries that apply the current framework, as well as the consequence of Brexit on roaming charges in the UK.

Keep in mind that calling while on boats or planes, using non-terrestrial networks, is not included in the roaming regulation. This might thus cost much more than calling from land while abroad.

Improvements in the regulation

From mid-2022, users will receive an SMS about any additional charges for calling services or for using non-terrestrial networks. As with roaming, services will be cut when additional charges reach €50.

You can however define another limit, or remove the limit all together. But make sure you reinstall it afterwards (as per Beltug’s Recommendations on Corporate Policy).

Another small improvement ensures that you get the same service abroad, when available, as at home. This applies mostly to 5G. So if your organisation is using 5G in Belgium, it will be guaranteed to get 5G abroad, if available.

Non-roaming charges for international calls and texts are not included

Business users continue to pay relatively high charges for international calls in some instances: up to €1 per minute. Consumer prices have been regulated since 2019, and limited to €0.19 per call minute and €0.06 per SMS message.

Beltug supported the European Parliament’s desire to abolish non-roaming charges for international calls and texts. But the Member States opposed its inclusion, saying that the current discussion was just a recast of a previous regulation without large changes. The European Commission will now look into non-roaming charges for international calls by mid-2024.

The ‘fair use’ policy

When roaming charges were abolished in 2017, an additional regulation on ‘fair use’ was included. This is intended to prevent misuse, such as exploiting the cheaper tariffs available in the western member states for constant use in the eastern member states, where tariffs are higher. In practice, a de facto permanent roaming situation is not possible in the EU. When you find work abroad, you can’t just take your mobile phone subscription with you; you must change telecommunications provider, although, technically, it isn’t needed.

See you back around 2030, if we are still using phones…

In order to tackle the fair use policy and the non-roaming charges, the European Parliament ensured that it will be more involved in the review of the regulation before 2032. Traditionally, the European Parliament is more oriented towards users, consumers and businesses. So, around 2030, once the proposal is published, Beltug will re-raise the points on international calls. If we still use phones to call and text, of course…