It's taken a few years, but the European Union has finally forced mobile phone companies to drop their roaming charges across Europe.

According to the new EU law, passed by the European Parliament in May and which came into force on July 1, those travelling to Europe will have cheaper access to data on smartphones and tablets.

So instead of payinig the usual 70c plus, you will now be charged a maximum price of 29c per minute to make a call on your mobile phone.

It wiill cost 8c to take a call, 9c to send a text and 70c per Mb for data dowloads.

According to the UK consumer group Which?, using smartphones and tablet devices such as an iPads while travelling overseas, can be as much as 1,000 times more costly than in the UK.

Just checking emails, using Google maps as a satnav, or just browsing the internet to find restaurants or things to do has cost consumers without a roaming data deal with their operator dearly.

Under the new EU rules a phone company can only charge you  €50 for data downloads (unless you’ve agreed otherwise with your network), and your network has to alert you when you reach 80% of that spend.

Once you reach the €50 limit you’ll be given the option to keep going and spend more or else you’ll be cut off. From 1st July than applies when you’re roaming outside of the EU also.

But bear in mind that you may even get better deals from your network provider under their roaming packages, a lot of which are free but you have to actively sign up to them.

For example if you opt-in to Meteor’s Europe roaming offer the charges are cheaper that the maximum cut off charges and taking a call is not charges at all.

And with Vodafone you can opt in for data download at €2 per day for 500MB, which is significantly cheaper than the 70c per MB cut off under the EU rules.