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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 June 2007, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
Phone home blues
Lucy Breakwell
The Politics Show North West

Women with phones
The mobile bill can take the gloss off the holiday

The cost of mobile calls has always been a hot talking point and especially when it comes to mobile calls to and from mobiles when abroad. But the contentious price tags are about to fall.

How many of you have been abroad on holiday and used your mobile phone to ring home.

And then when you get back you are presented with a whopping bill that can sometimes be more than the actual cost of the holiday.

That scenario is hardly surprising when you realise just how much it does cost to use your mobile phone in a foreign country.

It can be as much as 99p a minute to make and receive a call abroad.

But that is about to change. The European Parliament has just passed a new law that will make using your phone abroad much cheaper.

The new "Euro Tariff" will cap roaming charges at 33 pence a minute to make a call and 16 pence to receive one.

It should be in force by August - in time for the end of the summer holiday period.

Mobile phone
But don't you go on holiday to get away from the 'outside world'?

So... to find out how the European Parliament is affecting the lives of people from the North West the Politics Show has been on a whirlwind tour of Europe.

First Stop - The Costa Dorada, Spain

Around one million tourists from the North West of England visit Salou on the Costa Dorada each year.

And for them Europe's all about shimmering blue seas, golden beaches and the hot Spanish sun.

On our visit, we met plenty of people from across the region, all spending a fortune using their mobiles - some of them running up bills of 200, to keep in touch with friends and family back home.

And when you are sitting on the beach sipping a cocktail the European Parliament in Brussels might as well be a million miles away (well 893 to be precise).

PROPOSED ROAMING CAPS
Making a call
Parliament opening bid: 40c
European Commission: 44c
Parliament compromise: 45c
German EU presidency: 60c
Industry (GSMA): 65c
Preliminary deal: 49c falling to 43c in 2009
Receiving a call
Parliament opening bid: 15c
European Commission: 15c
Parliament compromise: 20c
German EU presidency: 30c
Industry (GSMA): 35c
Preliminary deal: 24c falling to 19c in 2009
Charges per minute, excluding VAT

But the mobile phone roaming legislation is an example of how the two worlds can collide.

Stop Two - The European Parliament, Brussels

The North West's nine MEPs spend most of their days in the European Parliament building in Brussels, talking about issues like EU treaties and global trading partners.

Arlene McCarthy is a Labour MEP for the North West and also chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee - the group that has helped steer the new mobile phone legislation through.

On our visit to the European Parliament we met up with Arlene McCarthy and UKIP MEP John Whittaker to discuss the new "euro Tariff".

So join us this Sunday on the Politics Show where we will be reporting from Spain and having a lively discussion in Brussels.

Join Jon Sopel and Anthony Wilson on The Politics Show, Sunday 10 June 2007, BBC One at 12:00 BST.


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SEE ALSO
EU close to roaming charge deal
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