Good news for mobile phone users. The European Parliament has approved new rules to cap prices of intra-EU phone calls and push for fast 5G connections across the bloc by 2020.

EU lawmakers on November 14 voted through a package of new rules they had previously agreed upon with ministers of the EU member states. It was approved with 584 votes to 42.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, phone charges within the EU will be capped at 19 cents per minute for calls and 6 cents per text message, starting on 15 May 2019

As for the push for 5G, the the agreement lays the foundation for the activation of high-speed 5G networks across the EU by 2020. This aims to ensure the development of technologies such as autonomous vehicles and e-healthcare.

“It was high time to cap the sometimes outrageous prices for international calls in the EU,” said Constanze Krehl, speaker of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Europe for telecommunications. “In the case of German providers, up until now people have paid almost 10 times more.”

According to the European People’s Party (EPP) the new rules for telecom companies will help boost investments in next generation mobile networks (5G) and very fast internet as well as abolishing excessive fees on intra-EU calls and text messages.

“In the end, for Europe, it is all about making the best use of the new and greatly improved connectivity to fully seize all the potential of the more advanced technologies, such as 5G, Big Data, Internet of Things or Artificial Intelligence. And by doing so, Europe can position itself as a leading competitor at global level”, said Pilar del Castillo MEP, EPP Group Spokeswoman and the European Parliament’s Chief Negotiator on the European Electronic Communication Code (EECC) after the adoption today of the deal on new rules for the telecommunication sector struck between the Council and the European Parliament.

Pilar del Castillo pointed out that almost every area and industry sector will rely on high performing connectivity in the years to come – be it smart cars, cities, energy, industry, banking, health, research etc.

“These challenges require a regulatory framework that ensures predictability, rewards risk-taking and long-term investment in very high capacity networks and supports the rapid development of 5G communications. This is exactly what we achieved in the Electronic Communications Code. It is going to be crucial”, she said.

A new emergency warning system for citizens in the EU is also among the tangible outcomes of the telecoms package.

“If there is an emergency situation, a warning message with instructions will be sent to all mobile phones in the geographic area of the emergency situation. I am happy to see that we convinced the Member States to commit to introducing the system and will contribute to saving lives”, added Lambert van Nistelrooij MEP, EPP Group Spokesman in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee.

The ‘reverse 112 system’ could, for instance, be used to warn the population about floodings, forest fires or even attacks.