European consumer groups want mobile phone tariffs capped at €0.33 (22 pence) per minute for customers roaming outside their home country.

While mobile operators claim to be cutting the cost of roaming, their efforts are just a smoke screen and have no appreciable effect on charges overall, said a European consumer rights group.

The lower tariffs are typically available for a limited duration, sometimes requiring payment of an additional subscription fee, and may only be cheaper for long calls made using certain networks, BEUC, the European Consumers' Organisation, has said.

Their demand for fees to be capped at €0.33 (22p) per minute for customers roaming outside their home country is considerably lower than the cap of €0.49 per minute proposed by the European Commission in draft legislation that could be voted in by June.

Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media, announced plans last February to crack down on mobile phone roaming charges, which she said were unreasonably high.

On 12July, the Commission proposed cutting by 70% the cost of making and receiving calls while travelling in another European Union member state, saving European consumers €5 billion (£3.4bn) a year, according to the Commission's figures.

Under the Commission's proposal, operators will be allowed to charge no more than €0.16 per minute for calls received while travelling abroad, €0.33 per minute for calls made within the country being visited, or €0.49 per minute for calls made back home or to a third country while abroad.

However, that's still too much for the consumer groups, which called for charges of €0.16, €0.25 and 0.33 per minute, respectively.

European telecommunications ministers are expected to discuss the Commission's proposed regulations at informal meetings alongside the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany, next month, while the European Parliament will vote on the proposals in April. Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, has announced its intention to push the legislation on roaming prices through by the end of June, when its term of office ends.