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Brexit may get messy, but free EU roaming is safe, U.K. government says

The government minister in charge of overseeing the United Kingdom leaving the European Union has said that even in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit (that is, the U.K. leaving the E.U. without a formal agreement in place with its closest neighbors), the recently introduced free data roaming and reduced charging plans will stay in place. Dominic Raab, Brexit secretary, has said several carriers have already agreed not to reintroduce charges, and the government wants to force other operators to do the same.

Expensive roaming charges were scrapped in June last year, but at the time there was confusion over what would happen after Brexit, and concern that networks would back out of the scheme. Currently, all EU citizens — which includes people living in the U.K. — pay the same amount for calls and messages made abroad as they do at home. Additionally, all mobile plans in the U.K. include the ability to use included data and minutes throughout the European Union. These are EU laws, and therefore will not be part of U.K. law after March 29, 2019.

At first glance this is good news, however, it wouldn’t be Brexit if there wasn’t confusion. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Raab said the government would, “legislate for a limit on roaming charges to make sure in a no-deal scenario we would protect British consumers.” While this is promising, the wording doesn’t clearly state there will be no change to the current structure, and could be taken to mean new U.K.-specific limits will be introduced.

The response from U.K. carriers is more encouraging. An EE spokesperson told Digital Trends:

“EE customers enjoy great value products and controls offering inclusive roaming in Europe and beyond, and we don’t have any plans to change these offers. We are working closely with government on this and hope they will put consumers at the top of their agenda in the Brexit negotiations to help ensure that U.K. operators can continue to offer low prices to our customers.”

According to the BBC, Vodafone and Three have agreed not to alter roaming prices, and Sky News adds O2 to the list. The Independent quotes O2 as saying it has no plans to change roaming charges, and is in discussion with the government regarding the situation, mirroring EE’s statement.

Raab’s comments come ahead of the U.K. government publishing 28 technical documents related to Brexit, and its impact on aspects of daily and business life, on September 13. These documents will include official statements on the continuation of EU roaming, and may provide more information than currently available.

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