From a client perspective, the UK’s departure from the European Union gives more comfort than we originally thought.
It’s the small things that often rankle, creating an unfavourable perception. For instance, if our clients did not have access to a reciprocal health scheme then it would be an annoyance. Let us hope the Global Health Insurance Card proves to be a suitable alternative.
For some reason, different member states require different international driving licences. The good news is that not every country requires an IDP (don’t forget the GB stickers and Green Card, though). However, where required, why are they only valid for one year? Some electronic visas have a two-year validity. Enough said.
No visas is a blessing and the fact that passports only need to have an unexpired period of three months rather than six makes the passport question a little easier to stomach. However, you can be sure that there will be many months of confusion/misunderstandings at borders right across the union.
Roaming charges have been left to the private sector to determine. Here, competition will cut in and it is unlikely that any of the telephone companies will take the opportunity to make a lot of extra money when some of their competitors have already announced that there will be no change in the way they invoice their customers.
You won’t be able to fill your car to the brim with wines and spirits, so the newly imposed duty-free allowance may well do us good in curtailing the amount we consume. But you can buy French wines more cheaply in several of the large UK supermarkets, so why go to the bother?
Queuing on arrival at a European airport may seem a little demeaning; there was a time when the British passport meant instant respect. However, those days were long gone anyway and if individual countries which rely on UK tourism agree to open desks solely for UK citizens, there probably won’t be a notable difference.
For the travel industry there are still matters that need to be worked out. If a UK accommodation contractor goes out to sign up a few hotels, will they need a working visa? Will an educational visit require all participants to obtain work permits?
Abandoning the posted workers’ scheme will be a substantial blow to any operator that employs overseas reps or chalet staff. And European employment laws and social services payments will add 30% to 40% to the overheads of UK tour operators featuring Europe.
The EU was largely created in order to stop any subsequent wars between rival states and to this end it has worked perfectly. No matter what one may think of the EU, it has brought peace to Europe. What a shame, however, that the Erasmus programme has been abandoned. There is talk of some kind of replacement, but why try to change something that has worked wonderfully for many thousands of our children over many years? The less well-off will suffer particularly.
It will also be a great shame that, in putting up borders, we will lose the internationalism which the last 50 years years has brought to UK citizens, especially to our youth. Leaving the EU has not been a smooth process and many noses have been put out of joint on both sides. Neither side has won, whatever the respective leaders say. Before, we were Europeans; now we are foreigners.
It will be interesting to see how our clients will be received when they holiday in the EU. Will clients have a somewhat frosty initial reception in some destinations? I am pretty sure that the Portuguese and the Greeks will receive our clients with open arms; fingers crossed this applies across Europe.
I am sure that bureaucracy, form filling and authorisation requirements will increase considerably. Give someone a stamp to wield on a multitude of forms and they become all-powerful. Contrary to what we are told by our ministers, the bureaucracy will increase, and that will annoy people.
So, it’s a mixed bag; I can only hope that all the fuss and expense will have been worth it for us all. I can’t help feeling that there will be many unexpected surprises in the small print, as ever.