The European parliament and EU nations have agreed new rules to improve the rights to European mobile phone and Internet users, and offer more protection against illegal Internet porn and copyright abuse.

EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding announced the compromise deal, reached late Thursday, after European governments agreed to EU parliament demands to balance a crackdown on illegal downloaders with broader rights for Internet users.

Following a "strong request" from the parliament, and after lengthy negotiations, the future rules state that any national measures regarding restrictions to access to Internet services and applications must be "appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society."

Reding welcomed the deal as "good news for Europe's citizens."

The reforms will "substantially enhance consumer rights and consumer choice," she stressed.

Under the draft bill, authorities would no longer be able to cut off Internet services to users without providing evidence of illegal downloading or other activity.

The draft law will also boost privacy and consumer rights, make it easier for customers to switch telecoms providers and increase competition for Internet and phone services.

An earlier bill had been rejected by the parliament amid uproar over a draft French anti-piracy law which had suggested that Internet connections of users of peer-to-peer services could be cut without the prior intervention of judicial authorities.

The revised deal stresses that "citizens in the EU are entitled to a prior fair and impartial procedure, including the right to be heard, and they have a right to an effective and timely judicial review."

New rules on switching mobile or fixed phone providers are also likely to be broadly welcomed, at least by consumers, who will have the right to change companies in one working day.

It currently takes over a week on average.

When changing providers customers will also have the right to keep their old phone number.

The new telecoms rules will also ensure that European consumers have an "ever greater choice" of competing broadband service providers, according to the joint statement.

"I am very happy that we have reached an agreement on the telecoms package," said Asa Torstensson, communications minister for Sweden, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

The deal must still be formally backed in an EU parliamentary vote and by European ministers.

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