Mobile roaming costs in the EU will finally be scrapped from June 2017, following a two year tug-of-war between the European Commission, Council and Parliament.
The European Parliament and the European Council have today agreed to ban roaming charges when travellers use their phones in the EU from 15 June 2017, nearly two years after the European Commission first laid down its proposals for a 'single telecoms market'.
This means that when travelling in the 28 EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, mobile phone users will pay the same price as at home, with no extra charges whether making calls, sending texts or using data.
The new measures now need to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.
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Two years' worth of discussions
The European Commission originally proposed nearly two years ago to have a 'single telecoms market' so that the cost of making a call, sending a text message or downloading internet data would cost the same as at home by the end of 2015.
And in April 2014, MEPs in the EU Parliament voted by 534 votes to 25 to ban roaming charges anywhere in EU member states from 15 December this year.
But at a Brussels meeting in March this year, the EU Council – made up of EU governments – said that mobile phone roaming charges should remain until 2018, meaning callers faced another three more years of hefty costs when traveling and using their mobiles abroad.
The problem is that all three EU institutions need to agree in order for mobile roaming charges to be scrapped, although a compromise was reached this morning and roaming charges in the EU will be no more from 15 June 2017.
'We should move faster than ever on this'
Andrus Ansip, commission vice-president for the digital single market, says: "Europeans have been calling and waiting for the end of roaming charges as well as for net neutrality rules. They have been heard.
"We still have a lot of work ahead of us to create a digital single market. Our plans to make it happen were fully endorsed by Heads of State and Government last week, and we should move faster than ever on this."
Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, says: "This deal is fantastic news for British consumers and shows that the UK, working with its partners, can deliver real change in Europe, bringing significant benefits for working people."
How much does data roaming cost?
Mobile roaming costs in the EU have been gradually coming down since 2007 and from 1 July 2014, new cost caps came into effect across the 28 EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, which mean operators can't charge travellers in these countries more than the maximum allowed.
The current price limits are:
- Data: Capped at €0.20 (20p including VAT) per megabyte.
- Monthly data cap: The maximum you can be charged in one month for using data in the EU before it's cut off is €50 (£49 including VAT) – the level it's been at since 2010.
- Outgoing calls: Capped at €0.19 (19p including VAT) per minute.
- Incoming calls: Capped at €0.05 (5p including VAT) per minute.
- Texts: Capped at €0.06 (6p including VAT) per text.
However, these caps don't apply elsewhere in the world, where mobile providers can charge what they like for calls, texts and data. See our Cheap data roaming and Mobile roaming guides to cut costs when abroad.