Graham Watson MEP
Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for South West England and Gibraltar
A local champion with an international reputation
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Published on Wednesday 7th December 2011
On holiday in the European Union this winter? Regardless if you are off skiing or on a mini city break, please see below our brief guide on how developments in the European Union will benefit you when on holiday.
Fed up of the cost of making or recieving a call or sending a text abroad? Thanks to reforms that were supported by Graham, using your mobile phone on the continent is now cheaper than ever. Outgoing calls are now capped at 24 cents (21p) a minute and incoming call charges capped at 7 cents (6p) a minute. A text will not cost you more than 8 cents (7p). From July 2014, these charges will reduce even further as the EU caps the amount of money mobile phone companies can charge.
A new review of roaming charging by the Commission has resulted in the cap phone companies can charge being reduced further, meaning that the cost of using the internet will fall from a substantial £1.80 per MB to less than 80p and to 45p by 2014. The charges on calls and texts will also fall over the same period.
There are currently 10 million users of smartphones and tablets in the UK, all of whom could be subject to these high prices that will now be significantly reduced.
European Health Insurance Card
The EHIC is a free card that replaced the E111 in 2004. With this card, you are entitled to free or signifcantly reduced state level healthcare in any country in the European Union. This could help significantly reduce the cost of basic medical treatment or prescriptions should you get into an accident or fall ill whilst on holiday. You can apply for a EHIC card via https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/home.do.
Planning on towing a car with your motorhome this summer? Then beware. Certain countries such as Spain have banned the use of A-frames and a number of Sir Graham's constituents have come acropper to this unknown legislation and found themselves receiving a heavy fine. Sir Graham advises all users of A-frames to carry out research first on the countries they plan to visit or drive through before departing.
Air Passenger Rights
The recent volcanic ash disruption last summer and this spring, along with the blizzards that shut down countless airports across Europe in the winter caused thousands of cancellations and left hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded. Under EU law, passengers are entitled to certain rights such as a free rebooking, refreshments and even accomodation depending on the length of the delay. However, many airlines have, in the past, been difficult in claiming this money back and abiding by these rights. For more information on what to do if your flight is cancelled or disrupted, please visit http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passenger-rights/en/index.html
Taking Pets Abroad
Following the 'Pet Passport' legislation introduced by the European Parliament in 2003, the UK government is now set to fully integrate the EU pet movement system following stringent monitoring of pets re-entering the country. Whilst these changes will not take affect this summer, from January, pets with the correct documentation will be eligable to re-enter the country without having to be quarentined. The rules apply to a huge array of pets including Ferrets!
112 Emergency Contact
The EU has created a continental wide emergency number incase you require local Police, Ambulance of Fire services. Instead of having to learn the local telephone number, 112 can be used in every Member State free of charge, with an English speaking operator on the end in almost every country. We urge all holidaymakers to note this easy to remember number before jetting off.