EU Gigabit Infrastructure Act: Intra-EU call charges to end in 2029, voluntary tacit approval principle upheld

The new rules aim to protect consumers from excessive prices for intra-EU communications

EU flags in front of European Commission

Representatives of the EU Council, Commission, and Parliament have reached an agreement on the new EU broadband law, namely the ‘Gigabit Infrastructure Act‘. The deal includes two key provisions: removing intra-EU call fees by 2029 and a voluntary tacit approval principle.

  1. The abolition of intra-EU call fees means that by 2029, calls and SMS within the EU should be priced the same as domestic calls.
  2. ‘Tacit approval principle’ remains voluntary under the new legislation. This means that permission to build and install telecommunications infrastructure would de facto be considered given if no decision was made in time by a national authority.

The scope of the law has been expanded to cover tower providers, encouraging pricing competition in intra-EU communications. The ‘Gigabit Infrastructure Act’ will enter into force eighteen months after its official approval, with some provisions related to the digitalization of single entry points entering into force only after 24 months.

Why does it matter?

Removing intra-EU call charges is a significant change, as currently, telecom operators make users pay when they call (€0.19/min + VAT) or send a text (€0.06/sms + VAT) from their home country to another EU country. The telecom sector had blasted the idea, claiming that eliminating the fees would cost them billions as they were massively investing in infrastructure to deploy 5G services throughout the EU.
Following the example of the EU roaming regulation, the implementation phase will have protections to prevent abuses. These safeguards will include sustainability rules, fair use, and anti-fraud measures. Starting in 2025, telecom operators will be authorized to match their retail prices to their national domestic prices to encourage market adoption of these new rules.

The tacit approval principle has also been a source of tension, with some national authorities, including the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), opposing compulsory “tacit approval for rights of way” due to potential excessive consequences for individuals.
Despite concerns raised by telecom operators about anticipated income loss, the agreement on the Gigabit Infrastructure Act is an important step towards reaching the EU’s digital connectivity goals.