European Union lawmakers are investigating a proposed tax on emails and mobile phone text messages as a way to fund the 25-member bloc in the future.

According to The Times, a European Parliament working group is reviewing the idea, tabled by Alain Lamassoure, a prominent French MEP and member of the centre-right European People's Party, the assembly's largest group.

Lamassoure, a member of Jacques Chirac's UMP party, is proposing to add a tax of around 1.5 cents on text or SMS messages and a 0.00001 cent levy on every email sent.

In Italy, the concept of a tax on texting was floated in the past, as a way to help offset the country's huge deficit, although it was flatly rejected by the outgoing government.

The Times says that other ideas include a tax on airline tickets and an extra levy on oil companies.