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The European Union says it is launching a full investigation into mobile telephone charges, following allegations that several national companies are overcharging their customers.
 
The companies are Belgium's Belgacom, Ireland's Telecom Eireann, British Telecommunications, P&T Austria, Spain's Telefonica, KPN Telecom of the Netherlands, Telecom Italia and Germany's Deutsche Telekom.
 
A spokesman for the European Commission said the decision followed preliminary inquiries which revealed that at least 14 companies might be charging too much.
 
Stefan Rating said the investigation did not mean that legal action would necessarily be taken against any of the companies.
 
"This is to increase attention on this issue. We want to get some eyebrows knitted and get some kind of reaction," he said.
 
He indicated that the EU expected them to reduce prices of their own accord. But he said the Commission could take further action if the findings warranted.
 
The Commission will examine what the companies charge mobile telephone operators on mobile-to-fixed telephone calls and fixed-to-mobile telephone calls, compared to what other operators are charged. 

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