UK mobile costs five times EU's lowest

Vodafone shopThe EU has vowed to clampdown on rip-off mobile phone operators in the UK that hike prices, after finding a 774% difference in call cost between member countries.

Rip-off Britain is the tenth most expensive at 9.1 €cents a minute. That's the EU average. But the cheapest is just 1.9 €cents – in Lithuania, the current EU presidency.

In September, EU vice president Neelie Kroes will present a new package aimed at strengthening the Telecoms single market.

The 774% difference is between Lithuania, the cheapest country, and Netherlands, the most expensive at 14.7 €cents.

No change in quality

The EU said: "These price differences cannot be explained by differences in quality, differences in the cost to provide the service, or by differences between countries in consumer purchasing power."

Kroes said: "As these numbers clearly show, the 28 national telecoms markets in Europe today are not benefitting consumers like a single market would. It is critical for the whole EU to move quickly to build a real single market to achieve a truly connected continent."

International rip-off

Calling abroad is even worse. The cost of an international call in Portugal with Vodafone is €0.465 but making the same call on Vodafone in the UK is €1.19 - one of the most expensive across the EU.

The EU flagged up that there are much smaller price differentials in other categories of basic goods and services in the European single market. A litre of milk can be bought for between €0.69 and €0.99 wherever you are in the EU, a price difference of 43%. An occasional purchase such as an iPad is subject to only an 11% price difference across the EU.