Travel & the EU

What would Brexit mean for UK holiday-makers and travellers? Our generation has grown used to relatively cheap and easy travel to thousands of different foreign destinations. We don’t think twice about booking flights online to places inside and beyond Europe. No surprise then, that the joyless EU scaremongers have targeted the holiday and travel industry, claiming that our ability to enjoy ourselves abroad will become (in the words of the Telegraph’s Nick Trend), ‘more difficult, more expensive and generally less pleasant’.
But how convincing are these claims? Chief among them is that the EU helped remove the old restrictions on air service agreements and introduced more open competition on routes between Union countries. But there is no evidence that if we were to leave, competition would be reduced. We live in a global travel marketplace, and competition is now international. It all depends on what conditions we negotiate on leaving, and our position is far stronger than the ‘remainers’ claim. We could choose to replicate our existing access to the EU aviation market.

Pro-EU Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has dubiously claimed that interrailling around Europe for young people would become far more expensive, difficult and even dangerous if we left the EU. But interrailling started in 1972, before Britain joined the EU. The scheme is not even confined to EU countries – it includes Norway, Serbia and Turkey. This is mere scare-mongering. Thousands of young people from many countries, including Australia and New Zealand, travel round Europe and work within it.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) supposedly entitles UK citizens to free or reduced-cost treatment in other EU countries. But, as even its defenders admit ‘It doesn’t have the same benefits as travel insurance’. All that they can say is that if you have a card, and have to make a claim on your travel insurance, the insurance company may waive the excess.

The argument that our travel ‘safety’ would be compromised if we left the EU is based on the vague argument that European countries work together ‘better’ in crises such as last year’s terror attacks in Tunisia. Membership of the EU did nothing to ensure the security of travellers in the EU heartland of Brussels last year, where security checks on the entrance to the airport were far less good than in many non-EU countries, including Turkey, which scans all luggage and passengers as they enter the airport.

Brexit will bring with it positive travel perks! We lost the right to buy duty free when travelling to or from another EU country in 1999. Brexit would mean the return of duty-free allowances when you travel to the EU – not just alcohol, but cigarettes, perfumes, luxury goods – all kinds of items whose bargain price has been reserved for non-EU members. Those bargain duty-free prices that we see pegged to the shelves will now be available to UK travellers.