Your EU holiday rights this summer - 2012-07-20
It's always good to know before you go. With the school summer holidays in full swing, we've put together some key facts that could help if you're travelling to another EU country, including advice on travel rights and using your mobile while you're away.
Roaming (using a mobile, smartphone or computer when abroad)
Bills on mobile phone calls for travellers came down from 1st July this year as a result of a vote in the European Parliament. This will bring down not simply the cost of making calls from abroad and receiving calls from home, it will also bring down the charges for "data roaming" when holidaymakers want to download information from the net. The changes should see the cost of making a call drop this year from around 30p/min to 20p/min, and the cost of sending a text will fall to 7p.
Labour's Peter Skinner MEP, who helped take the measures through the European parliament said "The mobile phone companies have been ripping off holidaymakers for too long. The barrier charging different rates across national boundaries is totally artificial - phone signals don't know they've crossed an international border! It will be cheaper to make a call, send a text or check Facebook or the football scores online this summer.
"When you're travelling, you often want to download data, to find out about places to visit, for example. So there will be a dramatic reduction in prices particularly for internet use. Customers should also have 'bill-shock protection', set at 50 euros, so that customers are warned by text if they have spent a lot of money while travelling unless they have chosen another limit – higher or lower."
This link has a helpful video, and a breakdown of all the charges:
Flights - Key facts
If you're lucky enough to be flying off on holiday this summer, hopefully you won't face serious delays, but if you do then your airline is under a legal obligation to care for its passengers, including providing refreshments and accommodation if necessary.
* If your flight is seriously delayed then you have a right to support from the airline
* Depending on circumstances this can include phone calls, refreshments, meals and, where a delay results in an overnight stay, accommodation.
* Your airline is required to act after two hours for shorter flights or three or four hours for longer flights.
* Your airline must tell you about what you are entitled to. If you are delayed, ask about your rights under EU law.
* The EU rights apply to all flights departing or arriving in an EU country.
* As well as a right to care by the airline, compensation may be payable, particularly if your flight is overbooked and you are unable to fly.
* Always speak to your airline before taking any action.
* In extraordinary circumstances (such as the ash cloud crisis a couple of years ago), you might not be entitled to compensation, but the airline still has a responsibility to care for delayed passengers, including providing meals and accommodation.
Find out more information from the European Commission, for air, rail, coach and bus travel from:
112 emergency calls
With any luck, you'll never have to dial 112, but if the worst does happen while you are away, then every second counts. That means it's worth remembering that in an emergency, wherever you are in Europe, you can speak to the emergency services by dialling 112.
* The 112 emergency number works in all European countries, including those not in the EU.
* Even outside of theEurope, your mobile phone should be programmed so that 112 will put you through to the local emergency services.
* A trained operator will answer the emergency call. They may transfer you to the relevant service, like inBritain, or deal with your call directly.
* Be ready to give your give your name, location and telephone number.
* Only use 112 for genuine emergencies - similar to those cases where you would dial 999 inBritain.
Find out more information from the European Commission:
Before you head off on holiday to any EU country, make sure you apply for your European health insurance card. It will help cover the cost of emergency treatment if you fall ill while you're away.
It isn't a replacement for travel insurance, so you should still make sure you have adequate cover, but some insurers require you to have the European card.
* The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to access emergency health treatment on the same basis as a resident in the country you are visiting.
* This means that you may still be liable to pay some of the costs of your treatment.
* When using the EHIC card, always seek out state provided medical care, as using private providers could result in medical bills not covered by EHIC.
* You should still take out adequate travel insurance.
* The small-print of some travel insurance policies requires you to have an EHIC card.
* Some private companies charge for processing an application for an EHIC card, but they can be obtained free of charge from the NHS.
Find out how to get your EHIC card, and more information from the NHS:
and finally.........BBQs, a word of warning
Don't use your BBQ indoors, in a tent or any enclosed space. There's a risk of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning even when it's extinguished. Linda McAvan MEP is campaigning for compulsory clearer and safer labelling. She says: "Carbon monoxide poisoning can have fatal consequences that could so easily be avoided with clearer warnings on all packaging and instructions that accompany any products at risk of producing carbon monoxide fumes. These are simple changes that could have a drastic impact on the number of accidental poisonings occurring over the camping season."
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless and tasteless toxic gas, which can be emitted from any faulty or misused heating or cooking appliance, petrol generator, or vehicle engine. Often referred to as silent killer, less than 2% of CO in the air can kill in two minutes.
With the summer holidays upon us, politicians, gas safety campaigners and representatives from the holiday industry are aiming to tackle the recent increase in deaths and injuries to campers from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of bringing barbecues inside tents and caravans. The NHS estimates that more than 50 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning every year in theUK, with a further 200 being seriously injured.
There's more background on the web-site of Linda McAvan's web-site:
If you have any questions about your EU rights, get in touch with your MEP. You can find contact details for all Labour MEPs here <http://www.eurolabour.org.uk/Our_people> .
For further media queries, please contact David Poyser on 00 32 479790053