Members of the European parliament (MEPs) have approved new laws which cut the cost of mobile calls made by consumers made while they are abroad.
MEPs backed plans to cap so-called "roaming" charges in the European Union (EU) in a vote held this morning.
Mobile phone operators had argued against the move by claiming the market is best left to regulate itself through competition, but Europe's lawmakers decided to take action to force prices down after finding significant differences in the amount which people have to pay for using their handsets in different EU countries.
Despite protests from mobile companies that capping roaming costs could drive up domestic bills for consumers, MEPs approved plans introducing price limits for mobiles being used abroad over the next three years.
Under the proposals the cost of making a mobile call anywhere in the EU will be capped at 49 euro cents (33p) a minute in the first year, while the cost of receiving a call will be capped at 24 cents (16p).
Costs will subsequently fall to 46 euro cents (31p) and 22 cents (14.9p) respectively in the second year following the introduction of the new legislation. They would then fall further to 43 cents (29p) and 19 cents (13p) by 2009.
While the European Commission and the EU's 27 member states will also have to formally approve the plans, it is hoped that Europe's 150 million mobile users will be able to benefit from the new roaming caps by the end of July or the beginning of August – the height of the holiday season.
Some mobile phone operators have already slashed their roaming charges in anticipation of the new legislation.
Speaking before the vote about the incoming rules, European telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding said the European parliament had been pressing for lower roaming charges on behalf of EU citizens "for years".
"Now, we have the unique chance to abolish this last border in Europe's internal market once and for all," she said.