Roaming charges to be cut at last

The EU's roaming regulation is coming into force in a few days' time, and will run for three years

Mobile roaming charges in Europe will drop, starting on 30 June when the new EU Roaming Regulation comes into force.

The regulation will run for three years and will cover all 27 EU member states.

Under the legislation, operators will have one month, until 30 July, to offer a 'eurotariff' with a maximum charge of €0.49 per minute for making calls within the EU and €0.24 per minute for receiving them. These will be lowered further in 2008 and 2009.

EU telecom commissioner Viviane Reding said in a statement: "At last Europeans can breathe a sigh of relief as the EU Roaming Regulation finally becomes binding law across all Member States. We hope we've now seen the last of excessive roaming charges."

The regulation was first proposed on 12 July, 2006 to curb the excessive mobile roaming charges both consumers and business users have had to pay.

It was proposed that the regulation would reduce roaming charges by up to 70 percent. The regulation received final approval on 7 June, 2007.

The national regulatory authorities and the European Commission will monitor the transition to the new rules to make sure they aren't abused.

The Commission hopes further regulation will not be necessary in three years' time, but Reding said the EU will act if necessary: "I hope that operators now understand the EU's ability to act. My message to them: Move now and bring SMS and data-roaming charges down quickly, or we will be forced to also intervene there very shortly."

Europe has more than 147 million roaming users, 110 million of which are business users, according to the European Commission.