Going on holiday to Europe this summer? There have never been greater safeguards for people travelling from country to country, more protection against the unexpected, or more guarantees for the tourist.
There’s a whole raft of rights and benefits that you may not even be aware of. So it’s worth just checking out how the EU looks after your interests when you leave the shores of the UK.
For example, if you’re going by air, and your flight is cancelled, you are entitled either to alternative transport to your destination or to having your ticket refunded. There is compensation for delays of over 3 hours, while a wait of more than 5 hours may entitle you to a full refund, as well as to other payment for refreshments and overnight stays. If your luggage is lost, damaged or delayed, you may be entitled to costs from the airline.
Or if you’re travelling by rail, and your train is cancelled or delayed by more than 1 hour, you are entitled to request an immediate refund. You may also be entitled to be transported to your final destination as soon as possible, and to accommodation where necessary.
Of course, you’ll also want to use your mobile phone, and roaming charges within the EU have once again been reduced this year as a result of action by MEPs. The costs of making and receiving voice calls have fallen, along with the cost of text messaging. Data charges have also been slashed, making data usage 91% cheaper than it was in 2007.
All these charges are expected to be further reduced by July 2014, and all mobile roaming charges within the EU should be abolished by 2015.
You can even take your pet! EU citizens can now travel with their cat or dog, provided they have a European pet passport . These are available from any authorised vet, who will give your pet an electronic microchip, the details of which are then specified in their passport.
And there’s much more. You’ve got rights to free medical treatment with a European Health Card, a whole host of entitlements regarding shopping and other consumer rights, as well as protection against timeshare sharks.
Of course, even with this much protection, things can go wrong. A few people every year unfortunately become victims of crimes committed in a foreign country. But EU rules ensure you have access to the police and the courts, that you’re treated properly, and that you’re protected from any further victimisation or intimidation. You can also get access to compensation.
Finally, there is now also a Europe-wide emergency number. If you need police, ambulance or fire services, just dial 112 from any mobile or landline anywhere in the EU. There’s no charge.
Of course, we all hope we won’t need any of these. But it’s good to know the protection is there if we need it.