Lindsay Razaq: The perks of EU life we take for granted

(iStock)
(iStock)

WITHIN days of Brexit being triggered, my husband and I set off on a European rail tour.

The Saturday afterwards, we breakfasted in London, lunched in Paris and dined in Milan.

It was as fun as it sounds, although tiring too as we covered some 800 miles in a journey that lasted more than 13 hours.

I write about Britain’s forthcoming departure from the European Union at least once a day.

But, racing along the European countryside, I had time to consider the issue on a more personal level.

How have I – a 30-something who has only known life within the EU – benefited from membership? And what will leaving actually mean in practice?

Firstly, I thought about my Erasmus exchange in third year of university.

For nine months between 2004 and 2005, I switched Durham for Montpellier in southern France, staying on at the end of the academic year to work for the summer.

After graduation, I found myself back across the Channel, this time working as an au pair in Italy.

Going back further, I have lost count of the many camping holidays my siblings and I enjoyed as youngsters when we would load up the car and drive for miles.

I remember on one particular occasion – as a young adult – falling ill with appendicitis and having to undergo surgery in a small French hospital.

Upon discovering that I had no health or travel insurance, my dad began panicking about the cost of the operation plus a three-day stay.

Thankfully, after presenting my EHIC (then E111) card, the total came to just €66.

The point I’m trying to make through these anecdotes is that there’s a lot at stake over the coming two years.

Currently outside of the Schengen borderless area, which includes most EU states plus four others, we already have to show our passports when arriving by ferry or train and provide advance passenger information before a flight.

But the European Commission has plans for an online authorisation scheme – similar to that set up by the US after 9/11 to determine visitors’ eligibility – and an entry-exit system.

Air passengers could also face higher prices and fewer destinations if the UK loses access to the open skies arrangements that have allowed no-frills airlines to flourish.

The future of reciprocal health benefits is uncertain too.

And it’s not clear how easy it will be to work in the EU or whether British students will continue to have access to the Erasmus scheme.

Of course, we can’t be sure what Brexit will look like.

But, regardless of how you voted in June, there’s undoubtedly a lot to think about.

As a glass half-full gal, I always aim to remain positive.

Theresa May has been at pains to say Brexit will not mean turning our backs on Europe.

I hope she’s right – and that Europe doesn’t turn its back on us either.

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