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What your £34 a year EU membership gets you

November 7, 2014 9:06 AM
By Frankie Goodway in The Mirror

By Frankie Goodway - The Mirror - published 3rd November 2014

So you're not interested in the arguments over farming subsidies or legal jurisdiction- but these upsides of the EU might get your attention...

Being in the European Union costs the average British tax-payer £34 a year. That's how much it boils down to if you split up the UK's EU contribution. If you earn £23,000 (the average salary) then your contribution works out as less than a quarter of a TV licence.

The EU does a multitude of things, helping boost trade, the economy, farming, education, training, consumer rights, justice and all sorts of lovely things like that.But we've decided to look at what really matters: How does the EU help you go on holiday?

1. Unlimited travel

You can enjoy unlimited travel within the EU, with the opportunity to work and settle pretty much wherever you like, while maintaining your UK citizenship.

2. It's the cheapest visa you'll ever get

Travel to Russia on a tourist visa? That'll be £125. Travel to Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and TWENTY TWO other member states? Free.

(Well, you'll have to pay for your travel. But the EU has also made sure that international travel is held to certain standards of punctuality.)

If we pretend for a moment that the ONLY benefit you get from the EU is the visa exemption, it works out as £1.14 for visiting each member state. And that doesn't even include the other visa reductions we get as part of the EU.

There are also significant reductions in visa costs for EU citizens travelling outside the EU. The US waives visa requirements for most members of the EU, with limits on some of the latest members. Japan exempts EU members from visas as well.

So membership of the EU means you can go to four out of the five big Disney attractions without worrying about a visa.

Note: Some non-EU countries also have visa waivers with with some of the four graphed here. A Russian citizen would have to pay all of these charges.

3. Don't panic if you break your leg in Latvia

You don't have to worry about your health while on holiday in the EU either; the European Health Insurance Card ensures that you can access state healthcare for very little, and often for free.

You can even be reimbursed before you've got home, although rules have changed on this recently.

4. And further afield, the EU offers sanctuary

In more dangerous situations, the EU offers you more protection that we'd have as UK citizens. The UK diplomatic service is huge, but there are still some places they have no reach. For example, if you suffer an emergency in Gabon in West Africa, the nearest UK embassy is in Cameroon, a neighbouring country.

But the EU's got you covered. When your own embassy isn't available, you can visit the embassy of another EU member state. In the Gabon example, that could be the embassy of Spain, Italy or Germany, among others. In a crisis situation, those embassies are bound by law to help you escape.

Not bad for £34.

5. You can call home - for 20p a minute

Remember when you were afraid turning on data roaming would leave you with a bill larger than the one from your hotel? Those days are gone thanks to EU regulations that ensure data roaming charges are fair.

The EU is also responsible for the 112 emergency number, meaning that wherever you are in the EU (and another 53 countries) you only have to remember one number in a crisis.

Oh, and don't forget those EU-only queues at airports.

[Source: European Commission]