Food, flights, Netflix: the EU and daily life
In our first article about the EU referendum’s impact on teenagers, we explore its relevance to everyday life. Will a Remain or Leave vote lead to better entertainment, food and travel?
The price of flights to Spain. The line-up of Premier League football teams. The quality of your favourite TV show.
They seem odd topics in a debate on the UK’s political future. But all have featured in the EU referendum campaign.
Last week, the government said the average four-person holiday to Europe would cost £230 more after leaving the EU. Travel agents said they could have to raise prices; the chief executive of the airline Monarch said the outcome of a vote to leave would be ‘very negative’.
‘The choice facing the British people on 23 June is the certainty and economic security of remaining in the EU, or a leap in the dark that would raise prices,’ said the prime minister.
Would Britons lose access to free emergency healthcare in other EU countries, quicker queues at passport control or cheaper phone bills abroad? That would largely depend on what the country was willing to accept in a deal after the vote.
Leavers argue food quality is driven down, and prices up, by EU membership. Telegraph columnist Allister Heath says ‘consumers would benefit hugely from being able to buy cheaper food from all over the world’ if Britain left.
They also say fishermen and farmers would provide cheaper, better products if freed from the EU’s quotas and regulations. The Remain side says EU trade and regulations help fishermen; farming unions have backed a Remain vote.
Even internet connections and TV shows will be affected. One of the EU’s current priorities is the digital single market, which could make it easier to share online information across borders – but may require more regulation.
More than 400 professional footballers could lose the right to play in the UK after a Leave vote. And the European Commission wants 20% of content on video-streaming sites to be EU-made; leavers say this will hinder the quality of entertainment on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Both sides add that they will make people better off — giving you, and the government, more money to spend. But which side will give Britons more of life’s simple pleasures?
Working together is better, say Remain campaigners. If Europeans want cheap holidays, good food and high-quality TV shows, they must make policies collectively. Everyone becomes better off and has more opportunities when resources and the ability to make decisions are pooled.
Britons would benefit from the chance to make their own laws, reply leavers. A new deal with Europe would maintain rules that are working for Britain and get rid of those which are not. The EU is a bureaucratic monolith which treats all its citizens the same; Britain should base its decisions on the unique pleasures its people enjoy.
- Will your day-to-day life be better if Britain votes to remain or leave?
- Will the UK benefit more from working and compromising with the European Union or making its own laws to fit its own priorities?
- List five questions about the impact of the EU vote on your daily life which you consider important (eg, will it affect my phone bill?).
- Swap your questions from activity 1 with a partner. Choose the question of theirs which most interests you. Research what the two sides might say and write your partner a letter explaining your answer.
Some People Say...
“Life’s little details are also its most significant ones.”
What do you think?
Q & A
- Aren’t these all fairly minor issues?
- The quality of food in the shops and the choice of films you watch or the price of phone calls may not seem too significant. But they reflect wider discussions about EU membership. If you think countries must legislate together to improve these matters, you may think the same about economic or security issues. If you think these things would be better without EU-wide regulation, that may mirror your attitude to other issues.
- I don’t care about the issues in this article — for example, I’m not a football fan. Do they still affect me?
- Similar debates are taking place in all kinds of fields. Artists, scientists and actors are among those who have also contributed to the debate. Whatever you care about, EU law is likely to have some kind of impact on it.
- Travel agents
- The Association of British Travel Agents released a report warning that its members’ costs would increase, driving up prices for consumers.
- The European Health Insurance Card currently entitles UK citizens to free healthcare in EU member states.
- Phone bills
- Next year, the EU is due to abolish data roaming charges, reducing mobile phone bills abroad.
- It would be likely, for example, that the UK could come to a reciprocal agreement with the EU about provision of healthcare.
- The EU’s common fisheries policy is particularly contentious, as it limits the number of fish fishermen may catch. The common agricultural policy has previously been accused of causing large amounts of food waste — although it has subsequently been reformed.
- Some fishermen are angry that they will not be allowed to dispose of fish at sea after 2019, reducing the number of fish they may catch.
- European Commission
- The EU’s executive body. It includes one commissioner from each member state. It proposes legislation and budgets, makes regulations and enforces the rules.