Getting into a car at the North Cape of Norway and driving all the way to Gibraltar, without any border checks? No need to worry about exchanging currency? Easily transfer the fee for your vacation rental anywhere in the EU? No more sky-high roaming fees in the EU? Thanks to these achievements of the European Union, some 500 million EU citizens can today travel with as much ease in many parts of Europe as in their own country.
The Schengen provisions abolished checks at 22 Member States’ internal borders, as well as for travel to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Also, before the 1990s, mutual recognition of driving licences within the EU was not a matter of course. Today, this common practice enables EU citizens to drive in all Member States.
Travelling not only by car, but also by train and by aeroplane, has meanwhile become much more passenger-friendly. Throughout the EU, air, rail, ship and bus passengers who cross national borders have a legal right to adequate, timely and easily-accessible information on cancellations and longer delays. Passengers who experience cancellations or delays, or whose baggage is lost or damaged, are normally entitled to compensation. With the “Your Passenger Rights” app, passengers have easy access to information about their rights and how to make use of them.
The euro: one currency for much of the EU
The greatest advantage while visiting another EU country is certainly the euro, which today is valid legal tender in 19 of 28 EU Member States. Some tourist destinations outside the euro area also accept the euro in addition to their national currency. Moreover, European regulations stipulate that cash withdrawal fees throughout the EU may not be higher than withdrawals from banks in an EU resident’s home country. Thanks to standardised account information and transfer methods in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), making national and international transfers feels much the same. Making a down payment on your holiday home in Tuscany, Italy, has thus become easy and will not require any additional fee.
In recent years, making mobile phone calls and sending WhatsApp messages during your beach holiday has also gotten much cheaper: The cost of using smartphones while travelling in the EU has decreased considerably, thanks to EU regulations and imposition of price limits. Compared to 2007, consumers pay between 80 and 90 percent less today for mobile roaming services. Beginning in June 2017, mobile roaming fees within the EU will be abolished, so that calls, SMS and data usage will cost exactly as much abroad as in an EU resident’s home country.
Many of us have come to view the great advantages we enjoy during travel within the EU as completely natural. These are, however, significant achievements and tangible results of European integration, thanks to which we can freely cross national borders and explore Europe’ diverse landscapes and cultures hassle-free.
Last updated on 24 August 2016