The decision means that mobiles could be used once a plane has reached an altitude of 3,000m or more.
It follows six months of consultation by the European regulator and the first services could launch next month.
Viviane Reding, the EU telecoms commissioner, has warned operators to keep the cost of calls made on planes at a reasonable level.
"If consumers receive shock phone bills, the service will not take-off.
"I also call on airlines and operators to create the right conditions on board aircraft to ensure that those who want to use in-flight communication services do not disturb other passengers," she said.
The European Commission has introduced new rules to harmonise the technical requirements for the safe in-flight use of mobile phones.
The commission is also making it possible to enable the national licences granted to individual airlines by a member state to be recognised throughout the EU.
The decision to offer the services now falls to individual airlines. However, there are other regulatory hurdles to overcome before the technology is considered to be fully approved.
The European Aviation Safety Agency still needs to approve any hardware that would be installed in aircraft to ensure that it did not interfere with other flight systems.