By Francesca James

With effect from today, 1st July 2011 to 30 June 2012 EU mobile operators will again be obliged to lower retail prices for roaming calls in line with EU rules first introduced in 2007 and amended in 2009.

Consumers opting for the EU-regulated "Eurotariff" will pay no more than 35 cents per minute for calls made and 11 cents per minute for calls received while abroad in the EU. This is the last in the series of regulated price cuts under the current EU Roaming Regulation, which expires end June 2012.

On 30 June 2010 the Commission published a report (see IP/10/851) indicating that, while such price cuts have temporarily reduced roaming prices during the regulated period, the current rules did not solve the underlying problem of lack of competition in roaming services and prices remained stubbornly close to the retail caps.

This creates the need for a new regulatory intervention with a view to meeting, in a durable way, the target set in the Digital Agenda for Europe that the difference between roaming and national telecoms tariffs should approach zero by 2015. Such a target will be met if competition in mobile markets gives consumers a rapid and easy choice of roaming service at, or close to, a relevant competitive domestic price level. For this purpose, the Commission will be presenting very shortly a proposal for a long-term solution to the structural problems in the markets for voice, text and data roaming.

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda said: “These new price caps will temporarily reduce retail prices for making and receiving voice calls when in another EU country during the coming year. But we have to tackle roaming problems at the root with a long lasting structural approach. The Commission will therefore be coming forward very shortly with comprehensive new proposals for long-term solutions to address the underlying problem of lack of competition in roaming markets."