Ukraine is one step closer to the EU’s free roaming area today, as the Commission adopted a proposal to incorporate roaming into the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. Once in place, Ukrainian visitors will no longer have to pay any additional charges to use their mobile phones when travelling in the EU, while travellers from the EU will benefit from the same rights when visiting Ukraine.
Bringing Ukraine into the EU free roaming area is one of the key actions of the revised Priority Action Plan. This plan is the roadmap for the full implementation of the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and Ukraine’s further integration into the EU Single Market. This is the first instance of an extension of EU internal market treatment to Ukraine.
Today’s step follows the announcement of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her 2022 State of the Union Address, to bring Ukraine into the free roaming area. It also follows the Commission’s engagement with EU and Ukrainian operators with a view to put in place voluntary measures to allow affordable or free calls between the EU and Ukraine, which were just extended.
The proposal will now be considered by the Council of the European Union. Following the Council’s agreement, a Joint Decision will need to be taken by the EU-Ukraine Trade Committee to grant mutual internal market treatment for roaming.
The pace at which Ukraine will be integrated in the EU internal market for roaming will depend on the pace of approximation and implementation of relevant EU legislation in Ukraine.
At the moment, EU and Ukrainian telecom operators offer affordable or free calls between the EU and Ukraine, on a voluntary basis. Thanks to this arrangement, around 4 million people fleeing the war have affordable connectivity while they seek shelter in the EU. The voluntary measures were recently extended by six months and the new arrangement now also covers calls to fixed line numbers in Ukraine as well as new types of operators.
The Association Agreement, including a DCFTA between the EU and Ukraine was signed on 21 March and 27 June 2014. The DCFTA has been provisionally applied since 1 January 2016. The Association Agreement entered into force on 1 September 2017.
The Priority Action Plan for 2021-2022 was put in place to spur the implementation process of the DCFTA. Since the European Council has granted Ukraine candidate status on 23 June 2022, the EU and Ukraine have reached a new stage in their relationship. In the EU-Ukraine Association Committee in Trade Configuration on 25-26 October 2022 both sides agreed to revise and extend the Priority Action Plan to reflect these new priorities for 2023-2024.
The proposal adopted today is for a Council Decision on the position to be taken on behalf of the European Union in the Association Committee in Trade Configuration as regards the amendment of Appendix XVII-3 (Rules applicable to telecommunication services) to the Association Agreement.