European Union (EU) lawmakers reached a preliminary agreement yesterday on how to curb excessive charges for consumers who use mobile phones outside their home country.
The compromise between European parliamentarians and the German government ends two weeks of tough negotiations. Germany held out for a better deal for mobile phone operators and the parliamentarians pushed for lower prices for consumers. The German government was representing the position of the national governments of the 27 EU member states.
If the entire European Parliament and a majority of the member states support the agreement, consumers will initially pay €0.49 (£0.34) per minute to make phone calls abroad and €0.24 (£0.16) per minute to receive calls. Both groups will take up the agreement during meetings in the coming weeks.
The law will come into effect as soon as the telecom ministers sign off on the agreement.
A year after the agreement is enshrined in EU law the so-called roaming charges will drop to €0.46 and €0.22 respectively, European Parliament officials said at a press conference. Two years after its adoption they will fall again to €0.43 and €0.19 per minute.
Wholesale roaming charges will be reduced over a three-year period too, from €0.30 in the first year the law is enforced, €0.28 in the second year and €0.26 in the third year.