The Council of the European Union today agreed roaming laws that will see the mobile charges paid by travelling EU citizens drop significantly.
The legislation will come into effect on 1 July this year as both the European Council and the EU Parliament have now given the roaming charge cuts the go-ahead.
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The rules will reduce the cost of voice calls for those travelling in Europe, from its current maximum of 35 cents per minute to 29 cents, with the price dropping further to 20 cents by 2014.
Mobile internet charges will fall dramatically, as operators will only be allowed to charge up to 70 cents per megabyte of data, with the cap moving down to 45 cents by 2013 and 20 cents by 2014.
The price of texts will also decrease from 11 cents to 9 cents by 2013, and bottom out at 6 cents by 2014.
The rules give EU roamers the choice to use a different network from their usual domestic provider, if it offers a more competitive rate when abroad.
“The structural measures introduced by this regulation aim to tackle the lack of competition and consumer choice which leads to high roaming prices,” read a statement from the EU Council.
“The regulation also lays down rules aimed at increasing price transparency and improving the provision of information on charges to roaming customers.”
The decision has won the support of a number of campaign groups, including Europeans for Fair Roaming.
The campaign co-ordinator, Bengt Beier, said: “We are glad governments accepted the new regulation just as the Parliament did in May. The new rules are a step forward for consumer protection.”
Now, Beier is hoping the EU will tackle roaming charges for citizens travelling outside EU boundaries.
“The EU should now look towards two other nuisances for mobile users: the high prices for worldwide roaming and international calls from home to other European states – those things are not covered by the roaming regulation,” he added.
The legislation will be valid until 30 June 2022, but the European Commission (EC) has agreed to re-examine it by 30 June 2016 and report back to the European Council and EU Parliament on the ruling’s validity.