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Price caps on cross-EU phone calls, texts go into effect

From Wednesday, calling from Finland to another EU country will cost no more than 19 cents per minute.

Mies puhuu kännykkään juna-aseman laiturilla Berliinissä.
A man speaks on a mobile phone in Berlin, Germany (file photo). Image: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

The price of making a telephone call from one European Union country to another is now capped at 19 cents per minute, thanks to the implementation of an EU directive. Sending text messages across the EU are also capped at six cents, but local VAT of each country is not included.

The price caps on calls and texts went into force in all 28 countries in the bloc on Wednesday. It will go into effect later in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, which are part of the European Economic Area but not EU members. The price ceiling affects communications on mobile networks as well as landlines, according to the EU.

The cross-EU directive was prompted by major variations in various countries of the per-minute prices of phone calls, and part of a broader harmonisation of the EU's single digital market.

WhatsApp, Skype increasingly popular

A couple of years ago EU countries began to abolish roaming charges, gradually enabling visitors from one country to freely use their mobile phones in another without the risk of additional fees.

Although internet-based calling and text message services like WhatsApp and Skype are increasingly popular, EU residents still use traditional telephone networks to communicate - wireless or otherwise.

One quarter of Europeans said they had used landlines, cellular or sent SMS messages across EU borders in the past month, according to a recent survey carried out across the bloc.

The differences in phone call prices in various countries have varied dramatically. The most expensive cross-EU calls were found in Croatia, Portugal and Ireland, while the most affordable were in Germany, Cyprus and the Netherlands, according to the European Union.

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