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EU - Not all is bad: 5 great laws the EU nailed down in 2015 for its citizens

Divided we fail, United we gain
The EU is probably the most popular scapegoat for politicians. For some, it is a symbol of neo-liberal economic politics, for others, a bureaucratic nightmare that issues self-preserving legislation at a record pace.

David Cameron and the Christian Social Union even want to introduce a national veto, illustrating the trust that Brussels has haemorrhaged in "certain circles".

But not all is bad, As a matter of fact - if we did not have the EU, things could be quite awful for all of us, as we would not have any more controls over corporate manipulations, affecting our daily life, and even the food we eat. Also, local government's hanky panky in making "under-the-table" tax deals with multi-national corporations, already quite a problem, would probably go completely out of control.

1)  Every year, around 30,000 people are killed in traffic accidents on European roads. New EU legislation will require car manufacturers to build their vehicles with devices that automatically notify the emergency services in the event of an accident.

2) Use of Internet Data and privacy laws: EU data-protection reform comes into force in the spring and is implemented by member states over the next two years. Companies like Google and Facebook will now have to provide clear terms and conditions, with understandable symbols. In this way, citizens will have more useful information that will let them decide what information they want to make available. "Simple symbols will make it clear for everyone what companies can and cannot do with your data," said MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht (Greens), rapporteur for the data protection directive.

3)  Booking holidays and weekend breaks on the web continues to increase in popularity. Travel agents and providers have recognised this trend and have started to link their flight deals to car rentals, hotels and other deals. The total cost of the package being bought is not always clear to the consumer and there is sometimes a lack of protection.

Come the spring, new rules will mean that such offers are classed as package holidays. That means that consumers will be better protected. A standard 14-day return policy will be guaranteed and there will be more transparency and comparative deals on offer. If travel providers go bankrupt, then customers will always be paid back their money.

4) Banks often like to keep their customers in the dark about fees and Brussels has moved to make that a thing of the past. New legislation will now mean that customers will be given more clear information about the fees charged when making purchases with credit cards. The maximum charge for credit cards will be 0.3% of the value of the transaction and the maximum for debit cards will be 0.2%.. You are encouraged to question your banks about their charges and if you don't like what they tell you contact the European Ombudsman.

5) In the EU, around 100 billion plastic bags are used annually, about 8 billion of which end up being carelessly dumped in the oceans, where they have a huge impact on the environment and eco-systems. "In the North Sea, 94% of birds' stomachs contain plastic," reported the European Commission.

Brussels decided in 2015 to make the member states massively reduce their production and use of plastic bags, giving the 28 countries the choice of binding targets or pricing. EU states were given the choice of either ensuring that no plastic bags are given away free by 31 December 2018 or reaching the goals of 90 bags maximum per person per year by 2019 and 40 bags maximum by 2025.

Divided we fail, United we gain .


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