What does the EU represent in your daily life?
What has the European Union done for you? Well, for a start, we all live in peaceful times, which in itself is a huge achievement, but it is not the only thing that Europe has done for us.
The EU cannot deal with everything, nor has this ever been its aim. The EU’s authority to act is clearly defined and limited by the EU treaties. The overall principle is that the EU should only act when a goal can be better achieved at EU level than at national, regional or local levels. If you have ever wondered what exactly the European Union does and has done for you, here are just a few of the achievements so far.
Safe and easy travel in the EU
As a European citizen, you can travel within the 26 ‘Schengen countries’: 22 EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden) and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The United Kingdom and Ireland have chosen not to be part of the Schengen area, while Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania cannot join yet. When travelling to or returning from non-Schengen countries, you will need to present a valid passport or ID card.
Study, train and work anywhere in the EU
Thanks to the EU, many young people take advantage of the right to full freedom of movement between EU countries.
As an EU citizen, you have the right to:
- train and study anywhere in the EU under the same conditions as nationals;
- work anywhere in the EU and benefit from the opportunities offered by an EU-wide labour market.
Free movement of goods, services and capital in the EU
Whatever their size, companies have access to the national markets of all EU countries and to 510 million potential customers. Why does this benefit you as well? Because greater competition leads to lower prices as well as a wider choice of products and services.
Healthcare and safety throughout the EU
If you fall ill or have an accident during a visit to another EU country, as an EU citizen you have the right to receive the necessary public healthcare in any EU country under the same conditions as people in the host country.
EU citizens also benefit from high-quality, appropriately labelled and safe food. The EU has some of the highest food safety standards in the world.
Consumer rights in the EU
When you go shopping in the EU, you are protected by all sorts of laws. For instance, as an EU consumer you have a minimum 2-year guarantee period for products, such as electronic goods, bought in the EU. This means, for example, that if your mobile phone breaks down after 1 year, it will be repaired or replaced free of charge, irrespective of where in the EU you originally bought it.
Quality telecommunications in the EU
Many of us now use smartphones and tablets. As an EU citizen, you can:
change your telecoms operator without changing your phone number, within 1 day;
use your phone anywhere in the EU in the same way as you do at home.
A common currency in 19 EU countries: the euro
There are a number of advantages in using a common currency in a single market where people from different countries trade together. Consumers can compare prices more easily at home, abroad and online.
The cost of the EU
The image above shows the annual running costs of the European Parliament, of the German Bundestag, UK House of Commons, the Assemblée nationale of France and US House of Representatives. Caution is needed when making comparisons as each parliament has its own story and structure, ressources may be dedicated differently for apparently similar tasks