The SNP is to back new European rules that could reduce the cost of using a mobile phone abroad by around 70%, which could represent savings of around fifty pence per minute depending on network operator and tariff.

SNP President and Euro-MP Ian Hudghton has been calling for action to tackle excessively high mobile phone 'roaming' charges for some time. This is an issue that affects millions across Europe who use mobile phones on business or personal trips within the EU, including thousands of Scots.

The European Commission has tabled proposals to regulate the issue, and Mr Hudghton indicated that the SNP intends to back the plans when they come before the European Parliament later in the year.

Commenting, Ian Hudghton said:

"Millions across Europe, and many thousands of Scots amongst them, use their mobile phones elsewhere in Europe, whether they're on holiday or on business. More often than not they come home to find they've been clobbered by excessively high call charges. When I first raised this matter almost a year ago I was shocked to discover that the cost of calling Scotland from Italy by mobile phone varied from £2.34 with O2 to £3.94 with Vodafone for a four minute call. Calling home from Slovenia cost then between £2.34 with O2 and £5.57 with T-Mobile.

"The European Commission has conducted a review and is proposing new rules which will come before the European Parliament. We'll be looking at the provisions when they're brought before parliament in the coming months. But we'll certainly be backing any new legislation which will provide a fairer system of charging for using a mobile phone abroad.

"The latest figures from the Commission show that the average cost of using a mobile phone elsewhere in the EU is around 79 pence per minute - almost five times the cost incurred by the service provider. The Commission has proposed a retail mark up of up to 30% which could allow for healthy competition whilst protecting consumers at the same time.

"If there is sufficient cross party support and cooperation, mobile phone users could be looking at reduced phone bills from next summer for their overseas calls."

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