Tag Archives: eu

Roaming charges reduced from tomorrow thanks to the EU

There is good news for smartphone users heading to the continent this bank holiday weekend. From tomorrow (April 30th), new EU rules will cap the cost of using your phone when abroad in Europe at 4p per minute, 2p per text and 4p per MB of data (excluding VAT), around four times cheaper than current limits.

Three UK’s rate is dropping from 16.6p per minute, 5.2p per text and 17.4p per MB to 4.3p per minute, 1.5p per text and 4.3p per MB. Tesco Mobile has announced it will drop roaming charges altogether in more than 30 European countries between May and September this year. From July 2016, all phone companies will be required to scrap roaming fees for phone users travelling within the EU.

That’s good news for my brother-in-law who is currently in Mallorca to compete in the marathon cycle ride, the Mallorca 312 tomorrow. That’s 312 km, a lot of it on the massive mountain ridge that covers the west of the island. I thought my leaflet delivery schedule for the next few days was punishing, but this is quite some feat of endurance, so  good luck, Jamie and team-mates.

This adds to a growing list of reasons to vote to remain in the EU. It maybe isn’t the biggest, but it does show that the EU is working to break down unnecessary barriers for the benefit of its half billion people.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 17 Comments

It must be possible to be 100% pro-EU, but still question how things are run

 

I’m half Danish and consider myself to be a European. I have never really felt particularly English or British at all and if Denmark is playing England at football it’s a tough call, even though I’ve lived in the UK almost all my life and spent a total of only two years in Denmark.

I have always been pro-EU. I believe in political co-operation and the European ideal – and have often considered other European countries to be more enlightened when it comes to matters such as social justice and environmental protection. Without the EU, I am sure we wouldn’t have had Blue Flag beaches or the equivalent, tighter car emission regulations (although they’ve been flouted badly in recent years) and proper food labelling. Whereas, in my experience, Danish Governments of whatever shade tend to want to ensure the quality of life and wellbeing of their populations, that enlightened approach sadly hasn’t been a particularly strong feature of British life – although it does appear to be something Scotland wants to follow (hence no tuition fees and prescription charges).

Whilst agreeing with the provisions of the Single Market in terms of the free movement of goods, service and people, this doesn’t stop me asking certain questions about the efficacy of the EU and what we might be able to do better. All institutions need to adapt and evolve to changing circumstances and the EU cannot be an exception to that.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 23 Comments

We need to challenge some of those Brexit statements

 

Well, the ‘official’ EU referendum campaign has finally begun. Funny, it appears to have been going on for months already.

I was interested to see the images of the two official campaigns juxtaposed the other day in the BBC report on my TV screen. The ‘Leave’ campaign was illustrated by old footage of Tories Grayling, Gove and Whittingdale etc. manning the phone lines, whereas the ‘In’ footage showed Tory, Labour and Lib Dem politicians, including the Prime Minister, doing the same thing. For an organisation that has tried so far to be unfailingly impartial in its reporting of the campaign in its ‘phoney war’ stage, I have a feeling that the BBC has possibly given the ‘In’ campaign a visual leg up, by showing its multi party nature. Now, whether we get politicians of different parties actually sharing a platform as we did in 1975 is a different matter.

So far, the arguments for and against have been pretty well rehearsed. We should park immigration for a moment, which could be the deciding factor, but which will still pose problems for us whether or not we stay in the EU. As an EU pragmatist, who thinks that, on balance, leaving the EU now would be a massive gamble, I do have to say that some of the arguments being put forward repeatedly by the Brexiters need challenging.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 51 Comments

Contrasts of Cologne and Kent

Tim Farron in CologneLast month I accompanied Tim Farron on a visit to a British Red Cross centre in Gravesend, Kent to learn about the projects they run for unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASCs). Home to the British end of the Channel Tunnel, Kent has always had a high proportion of UASCs, but 2015 brought an unprecedented number, with over 1000 new children entering into the care of the Local Authority. During our visit we met young people from Sudan and Eritrea who spoke about their experiences both in transit and since they’ve arrived in the UK.

In many ways it was similar to the visit I took with Tim and Catherine Bearder to Cologne in February, but there were also startling differences, and the starkest difference was in access to language courses and education.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 10 Comments

Tim Farron launches blueprint for UK to take 3000 unaccompanied refugee children

Tim Farron has this afternoon published his blueprint for how the UK could take 3000 unaccompanied refugee children.

Earlier he spoke to the Daily Politics about the plan and his visit to Northern Greece yesterday.

The plan has been drawn up in consultation with the charities and NGOs who attended his recent summit on the issue. The main recommendations are as follows:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments

Tim Farron visits refugee camps in Greece – “Real people in desperate circumstances fleeing war”

The news is constantly full of big numbers, thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people heading to Europe to escape war and destruction. Tim Farron is in Greece today, talking to some of them. What’s very clear is that behind those big numbers are individual people and families, just like ours, who had been living peaceable lives, getting on with their jobs, sending their children to school, just like the rest of us. They have been displaced by events beyond their control, war, violence, destruction and seek a place of safety where they can contribute to society and get on with their lives.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 10 Comments

What the UK can learn from the Dutch referendum

With just under three months to go the EU referendum, the low turnout and overwhelming majority against the Ukraine-EU Association Treaty in a Dutch referendum is not a good omen. It is a good moment to take stock. The campaign is about to start, with the official designation of the Remain and Leave campaigns due soon. What lessons can the UK learn from the Dutch referendum experience?

The good news first: the UK referendum really matters, whereas the Dutch one did not. The Ukraine-EU Association Treaty is important geopolitically but for the average Dutch voter, ratification will not change their daily lives. It allowed them a protest vote seemingly without consequence. Those that could bother to vote – less than a third of voters, with many supporters staying at home in the hope that the required 30% threshold would be missed – predictably took that opportunity with both hands.

Here, the EU referendum will have a very real impact on people’s daily lives. That should focus minds but there is a risk: a referendum is rarely about the subject on the ballot paper. Only when the question is crystal clear and on a topic of relevance to the voters will the campaign focus on that. The Scottish referendum campaign was a good example of where that worked well. Everybody could relate to the question at hand and because it was such a momentous decision, people were extremely engaged in the debate.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarViosr 6th May - 9:16pm
    Clootie, your thoughts now? The North Isles result was not too shabby for the Libs. You might want to have a heart to heart with...
  • User AvatarTim13 6th May - 9:09pm
    I don't think my comment was either absurd or harmful, Caracatus. By saying this I am not making overblown claims that we have suddenly recovered...
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 6th May - 9:04pm
    @Peter Watson Perhaps you should refer also to SILVIO's post very similar post of 24th April http://www.libdemvoice.org/after-a-year-of-tory-rule-we-have-the-chance-to-show-our-disapproval-50257.html. There he said "Fighting tooth and nail for...
  • User AvatarCaracatus 6th May - 9:04pm
    Thanks Paul, up to your usual standard. Obviously you couldn't actually think of any campaigns. I do remember things like Axe the Tax and Green...
  • User AvatarPhyllis 6th May - 9:01pm
    Oh dear Lord! The Lib Dems cannot afford to lose the outstanding Kirsty Williams as a senior and prominent voice in the country. Please someone...
  • User AvatarCaracatus 6th May - 8:52pm
    It is a fantastic result in Watford but the comments about Lib Dems being clear winners of the local elections are absurd and harmful.
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