Ukraine: EU facilitates coordinated steps by telecom operators to help refugees stay connected

At a virtual event today, telecom operators based in the EU and in Ukraine, are expected to sign a joint statement on their coordinated efforts to secure and stabilise affordable or free roaming and international calls between the EU and Ukraine. The Commission and the European Parliament have facilitated this joint statement and will welcome its signature by operators in the EU and Ukraine, including several EU-wide groups, and the association representing several mobile virtual network operators (MVNO Europe). After a number of spontaneous voluntary initiatives took place, the joint statement aims to establish a more stable framework to help Ukrainians displaced throughout Europe to stay in touch with family and friends back home. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has disrupted the lives of millions of Ukrainians. An estimated 4.2 million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries, in particular to Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, from where they are progressively moving to other Member States. In the face of this immediate and growing humanitarian crisis, it is essential that Ukrainian refugees have access to affordable connectivity, so that they can stay in touch with their family and friends and that they can use the Internet and have access to reliable information. The initiative of several telecom operators to waive or reduce international call charges with Ukraine and roaming surcharges for displaced people in Europe is therefore very welcome, and should be put on a broader and sustainable footing. More information will be available in this press release that will be online this afternoon, right after the signature of the joint statement has taken place.