The Financial Times reports that European Union (EU) telecoms ministers have backed plans by EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding to implement a retail cap of €0.11 per roamed text message, down from a European average of €0.29. In addition, the ministers backed a wholesale cap of €1 per megabyte on roamed mobile data. The move follows Reding’s statement in July that the 2.5 billion text messages sent every year by roaming customers in the EU cost over ten times more than domestic short messaging services (SMS). Meanwhile, the BBC notes that also included in the rules is a mechanism that will allow for connections to be cut if a data bill hits €50. Now the proposals have won the backing of EU telecoms ministers, the proposals pass to the European Parliament. The BBC report states that the Parliament is unlikely to raise any significant objections and the changes to charges are due to come into force across the EU’s 27 member states from July 2009. Viviane Reding has previously successfully pushed for cuts in voice roaming charges by up to 60 percent.

“The real cost of transmitting an SMS on roaming is less than €0.01,” said Commissioner Reding, according to a BBC report. “I believe there is ample room between €0.01 and €0.11 which is the ceiling, which will be fixed.” On the wholesale cap of €1 per megabyte of roamed data, Reding declared that “operators have plenty of margin.” However, the BBC noted the GSMA’s “disappointment” at the proposals. “In the current economic climate governments should be working to encourage investments,” said a spokesman. “The biggest concern is extending the use of retail price regulation which is a very extreme step and could deter investment in new services.”