Lawmakers set deadline on mobile roaming negotiations

Last-ditch negotiations to set a price cap for mobile phone roaming charges this summer will take place May 15, an EU lawmaker, quoted by an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said EU governments and the European Parliament must agree the new rules before they can come into effect, limiting the extra fees telecoms companies charge for calls made and received abroad.

The report also quoted Austrian conservative Paul Ruebig, who is charged with steering the regulation through the EU assembly, as saying that the parliament had made 'significant concessions' to reach a compromise on all the key issues and governments had to respond positively at talks next week if they wanted the roaming rules in place before the summer vacation.

'May 15 represents the last chance to show that we are really serious about "&brkbar; a swift adoption of this regulation,' he was quoted as saying.

This would allow the parliament give its final vote on May 24, allowing telecoms ministers seal the deal on June 7, he said.

But he and others have warned that any further delays would mean the proposed price ceiling would not take effect by the summer break, and holidaymakers would not be able to enjoy cheaper rates, the report said.

The Associated Press report said key points of contention are how low the price ceiling should be set and whether it would apply automatically to all roaming customers, as the parliament and European Commission want, or only to those who ask for it, as proposed by EU governments.