The UK formally withdrew its membership from the European Union on 31 January 2020.
A transition period will now commence that ensures a smooth winding-down of current EU-UK arrangements. The transition period lasts until 31 December 2020 (subject to any further extension), and during this time the UK will continue to follow EU rules and regulations as if it were a Member State. Any changes to EU legislation will automatically apply to the UK.
This means that there should be no immediate changes for Irish consumers in respect of the existing rules for roaming, intra-EU communications, postal or premium rate services (PRS). A further explanation continues below.
There should be no change to EU roaming arrangements during the transition period. After this point, it would depend on the nature of the relationship agreed between the UK and the EU.
Although Irish mobile operators would be allowed to introduce roaming charges for UK roaming, this does not mean that mobile operators will necessarily vary their current approach to Roam Like at Home (RLAH) arrangements for UK roaming at this time.
The approach taken by mobile operators will depend on commercial incentives, and in this respect, ComReg notes that the mobile market is competitive and the EU roaming arrangements have been very popular with customers.
If mobile operators were to continue to provide UK RLAH offers, then there would be no immediate change to a consumer’s experience when using their mobile phone services in the UK immediately post Brexit.
Irrespective of the commercial approach taken by Irish mobile operators, mobile customers will continue to have legal protections around roaming, such as:
• being informed of any roaming charges they could incur if and when they use mobile devices outside of the EU (including in the UK post-Brexit);
• being alerted when charges are incurred or the data roaming cap (€61.50 including VAT) is reached;
• being informed about how to avoid inadvertent roaming;
• being notified if their contractual terms are changed
ComReg, the independent telecoms regulator, will monitor compliance to ensure that operators abide by these obligations.
To assist consumers, ComReg has a detailed information page on mobile roaming www.comreg.ie/consumer-information/roaming/ which will continue to be updated with related developments.
Since 15 May 2019, the cost to Irish consumers for making calls or sending SMS text messages from Ireland to a fixed or mobile number in another EU Member State is capped. This is in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2018/1971.
If the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement, calls and texts to the UK made by consumers using Irish domestic fixed and mobile services and plans will no longer be subject to the intra EU price caps, and the costs for such communications to the UK may then be decided by the Irish operators.
Similarly, if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement, calls and texts to Ireland (and other EU member states) made by consumers using UK domestic fixed and mobile services and plans will no longer be subject to the intra EU price caps, and the costs for such communications to Ireland (and other EU member states) may then be decided by the UK operators.
We provide further details of intra-EU communications at the link www.comreg.ie/price-cap-for-calls-sms-text-messages-between-eu-states-intra-eu-communications/
As the designated universal postal service provider in Ireland An Post has confirmed that it has appropriately planned for the impact on postal services arising when the UK has exited the EU (Brexit), including ongoing communications with the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Communications Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) and other key organisations.
Depending upon the final arrangements in place, there may be changes arising in postal services to and from the UK, particularly with regard to customs inspections and charges (including VAT) and customs documentation if the UK leaves not only the EU but also the single market and the customs union (No deal – Hard Brexit).
In this scenario all inbound postal packets containing goods will be subject to customs inspections and potentially customs charges (and VAT). Information on the required customs declarations to be applied to outbound postal packets, and customs inspections and potential charges to be applied to postal packets inbound from the UK will be available on An Post’s website www.anpost.com/Brexit
Any other impact information will also be communicated in this medium.
An Post has also confirmed that its staff will be fully briefed on Brexit issues in regard to postal services and that it will have a communications plan in place for key customers and for postal service users which will outline the implications for all customers. Information on postal packet customs inspections and charges and customs declarations will also be available on the Revenue Commissioners website.
ComReg has no regulatory role in the regulation of VAT and Customs Duties, however the following information on its website may be of assistance www.comreg.ie/industry/postal-regulation/faqs/vat-and-customs-duties/
Premium rate services, provided by companies based in the UK, should continue to operate and be available to Irish consumers post-Brexit. ComReg will continue to monitor compliance by all PRS providers including those outside the European Union with their regulatory obligations. Any implications for PRS providers themselves in respect of licence administration will be communicated directly to impacted providers.
ComReg will issue more guidance on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU once the details are known.