As expected, telecom ministers throughout the European Union (EU) gave final approval to legislation that would slash mobile roaming rates throughout the 27 nation bloc as much as 70%, with the new law slated to go into effect on June 30. Yesterday’s vote represents a triumph for EU Telecom Commissioner Viviane Reding, who had fought for more than a year to cut roaming fees that are said to far exceed the actual cost of such calls. Charging that, “the market was not capable of solving the problem by itself,” Reding, in remarks about the law’s passage, explained: “the [European] Commission therefore had to act.” Under the new “Eurotariff” adopted by the ministers, roaming rates will be capped during the first year at €0.49 (U.S. $0.66) per minute for outgoing calls and at €0.24 (U.S. $0.33) per minute for incoming calls. In 2008, capped rates will drop to €0.46 for outbound calls and €0.22 for incoming calls. Rates will fall even lower in 2009, to €0.43 and €0.19, respectively. The law is scheduled to sunset after three years, although the EC may decide to reaffirm the measure if necessary. Wireless operators throughout the EU will have one month from the effective date of the law in which to bring their pricing schedules into compliance. Although German Economy Minister Michael Glos applauded the law’s passage as “a good day for Europe’s consumers,” a spokesman for the GSM Association of Europe’s mobile phone operators complained: “these price caps leave very little room for competition, for innovation, [and] they will harm this market.”