The European mobile phone industry on Thursday suffered a setback when an influential parliamentary committee backed plans to slash the cost of cross-border calls.
Legislators in Brussels voted to protect the EU’s 479m mobile phone users from expensive fees to make and receive calls while travelling in European countries other than their own.
The industry committee in the European parliament called for maximum charges of €0.4 per minute to make a call and €0.15 per minute to receive one.
Acknowledging that price controls were inevitable, operators had called for higher caps of €0.65 and €0.35 respectively.
Mobile phone groups such as Vodafone have fought hard against the plans to force cuts to ”roaming” rates, which are estimated to be worth €8.5bn a year to the EU’s telecoms industry.
Viviane Reding, EU telecoms commissioner, last year proposed regulation of international charges after claiming that consumers paid unjustifiably high roaming fees. She wants cuts of up to 70 per cent.
The vote by the industry committee in Brussels sets the stage for a binding decision on roaming rates by the full European parliament assembly next month and the suggested price caps could yet change.
EU telecoms ministers are expected to hold the final vote on the proposal in June.