The European Union's new roaming regulations have now come into force, slashing the cost of calling and sending text messages on a mobile phone whilst abroad in the Europe.

Similarly, the price for receiving calls while abroad and downloading data from the Internet also fell thanks to the new law.

"The roaming-rip off is now coming to an end," said telecommunications Commissioner Viviane Reding, who pioneered the reductions, in a statement on Wednesday.

The upper price limit for calling from abroad, or roaming, is now 0.43 euros (37 pence) per minute, down from 0.46 euros. The ceiling will drop to 0.39 euros next July and again to 0.35 euros in July 2011. The upper limit for receiving calls while abroad is set at 0.19 euros. The limits apply for subscribers from one European Union country travelling in another EU member state.

In addition, calls will be charged per second after the 31st second of a call, rather than per minute as they have been in the past. Per minute charging resulted in users overpaying by an average 24 percent, the Commission said.

The price consumers can be charged for sending a text message while abroad is capped at 0.11 euros excluding value-added tax (VAT), compared to an average of 0.28 euros until now.

Related

Meanwhile, the cost of downloading material such as music, photos and text from the Internet via the mobile while abroad is capped at a wholesale rate of 1 euro per megabyte downloaded, compared to an average wholesale price across the EU of 1.68 euros per megabyte.

Retail prices are expected to follow suit. Reding said that if the wholesale reduction isn't passed on to users then further intervention may be necessary.

"The Commission and national regulators will monitor data roaming charges very carefully and assess next year whether the roaming market is finally becoming competitive," she said.

The wholesale data roaming cap will fall again to 0.80 euros next July and to 0.50 euros in 2011.

In 2007 the EU passed its first roaming regulation which introduced a "Euro tariff" cap for calls made and received while travelling in the EU. As a result of that first price cap, users saved on average 70 percent compared to roaming prices in 2005.

Last year, after reviewing the impact of the first roaming regulation, the Commission decided to go further by lowering the cap on making and receiving calls, and capping the cost of text messages and data services too.

The Commission's battle against high roaming costs has been a victory for the Commission, which often struggles to win much support from citizens for its initiatives.