Law to lower roaming charges the fastest approved in EU

New laws to cap the cost of mobile phone roaming will come into force on July 1

A new law to lower the price of mobile phone roaming was approved on Wednesday, making it the fastest piece of legislation to be passed by European Union institutions.

Ministers from the E.U. member states gave the rule the green light following a positive vote by the European Parliament three weeks ago.

The roaming regulation, which was first proposed in July 2011, places caps on mobile data-roaming rates from July 1. Under the new rules, the cost of a call will be no more than €0.29 (US$0.43) per minute to make and €0.08 per minute to receive. After July 2014, this will drop to €0.19 to call and €0.05 to receive. The cost of a text message between E.U. countries will cost no more than €0.09, and €0.06 from July 2014.

The law would also cap retail data roaming charges for the first time. The cost of downloading from the Internet on a mobile phone in another E.U. country would be no more than €0.70 per megabyte from July and no more than €0.20 from July 2014.

"The structural measures introduced by this regulation aim to tackle the lack of competition and consumer choice which leads to high roaming prices," said the Council of Ministers in a statement.

The coordinator of the citizen-led campaign Europeans for Fair Roaming, Bengt Beier, welcomed the news but pointed out that the law will not cover travel outside of E.U. borders. "The E.U. 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," he said.

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Jennifer Baker

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