European officials declared Tuesday that the European Union would put an end to mobile roaming charges starting in June 2017, according to Agence France-Presse. The deal, which also presents the E.U.’s first net neutrality regulations, comes at the close of about two years of negotiations.
“This is a great success for the European Union and the Latvian presidency,” Latvian Transportation Minister Anrijs Matīss said in a statement. The agreement was a joint effort between the European Parliament, the European Commission, the E.U.’s 28 members, and the Latvian government, which is currently serving its term of the E.U. presidency.
Beginning April 30 next year, telecom companies will have to drop their rates to no more than Euro 5¢ per minute for calls made within all 28 countries of the E.U. (Text messages cannot exceed Euro 2¢, and each megabyte of data will run Euro 5¢ cents or less.) As of June 15, 2017, European citizens will be completely rid of all roaming charges.
The new rules are intended to soften the borders of the E.U.’s member states by encouraging greater interaction between its citizens, who will be able to use their mobile devices from country to country without worrying about incurring steep fees.
The deal also dictates that Internet providers must abide by the tenets of net neutrality, which means that they must provide open Internet access and regard all traffic equally. There are, however, exceptions to this law, which arguably defeat the purpose of creating it: Blocking traffic will be acceptable in the event of a cyberattack or “to ease the flow of traffic,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Another caveat denotes that “special services”–say, to ensure Internet quality for a surgeon in an operating room–can be given preference as long as other users’ Internet access is not impacted.