ROAMING CHARGES for mobile phone users are to be scrapped from 2017 after EU ministers gave their agreement to the plans today.

The legislation had been proposed by the EU Competition Council and ministers from across the EU were meeting in Luxembourg to give their final approval, which they approved without debate.

It will mean that from June 2017 EU nationals will be able to use their devices in any member state but mobile companies will not be allowed to charge the ‘roaming’ fees for calls, texts or using the Internet. It means that checking Google, updating your Facebook status or getting navigation will all be free.

Although it is nearly two years until the new laws come into force, prices have already fallen, and they will fall further from next April. A spokesman for the UK Government said that the cost of using data while in another EU country had fallen by over 95 per cent over the last four years.

Using a mobile device outside the EU can lead to extortionate charges, but campaigners have long been calling for the complete abolition of them here. Without opting in to the services offered by operators roaming can still cost a user a great deal.

Many mobile operators have already introduced small charges for unlimited roaming. In the UK Vodafone charges £4 and O2 charge £1.99 for unlimited use per day.

These rates are only available to those who opt in. But even these charges will be abolished in 2017.

The UK’s Business Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, said: “The end is now in sight for those astronomical bills that so many holiday makers face after a trip to Europe.

“The UK has worked with other countries and the European Parliament to get a better deal for consumers, and that’s what today’s agreement will deliver.”

The Minister, who is in Luxembourg today to sign the agreement into law, added: “This shows that the UK can deliver real reform in the EU to produce real benefits to consumers in Britain.”

The new rules have still to be adopted by the European Parliament, but this – due at the end of the month – is a formality.