Press release

British holidaymakers close to a fairer deal on prices in Europe

Government has pressed for reforms that could stop holidaymakers being charged more for car hire, train travel and resort tickets in Europe.

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The UK government has pressed for new EU reforms that could put a stop to holidaymakers being charged more for car hire, train travel and resort tickets when planning a holiday in Europe.

The proposal to tackle unfair price discrimination was published this afternoon (28 October 2015) as part of the European Commission’s Internal Market Strategy, which contains a package of positive measures that responds to UK calls for accelerated progress towards completing the single market.

This follows on from the news yesterday (27 October 2015) that the European Parliament voted in favour of British-backed proposals to scrap mobile roaming charges and boost protection for tourists.

Business Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said:

We have been calling for the EU to open up the single market and it’s encouraging to see this ambitious package that will bring real benefits for working people as well as new opportunities for British businesses. Having a British passport should not mean you get ripped off abroad or when shopping online, and the action to tackle this kind of discrimination is welcome. We hope the EU pushes this proposal through quickly.

I’m also pleased to see support for the sharing economy that should go some way in preventing innovative businesses being hit by kneejerk regulation.

The UK government has led the way in pushing for these reforms and will continue to press for further action, as more needs to be done to get the EU backing innovative businesses.

The proposed reforms would put an end to unfair price discrimination which prevents people in certain locations from taking advantage of the best prices for goods and services available to consumers in other EU countries. Recent examples including cases of international car rental companies offering services to consumers across the EU have shown British consumers being charged more than their European counterparts.

The strategy also includes a ‘services passport’ which will make it easier for businesses to start up in one EU country and do business in another. This means that British engineers and other highly-skilled professionals will finally be able to take full advantage of the single market.

There is also updated guidance on how governments should approach regulation of the sharing economy, in which the UK is a global leader. These technology-based business models help everyday entrepreneurs share and rent out their property, time and skills.

Further details on the measures:

  • the Services Passport will mean that once a business complies with certain regulations in one country, it will be able to demonstrate this compliance in all other member states without having to meet any additional requirements
  • new guidance on how to apply the Services Directive to the sharing economy should stop governments imposing damaging legislation on innovative businesses
  • a new framework will be created to assess the suitability of new and existing regulation governing the regulated professions, for example accountants and engineers, so that countries can’t use red tape to stop people offering services across borders
  • proposals for a more focused enforcement strategy should help bring about a culture change in the EU’s approach to regulation and its enforcement so that every country has to play by the rules

The UK government called for tough action on the single market in a document presented to Jyrki Katainen, EC Vice-President of Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, on 20 July 2015. The importance of ambitious reforms was also highlighted in a joint letter signed by the UK and 16 other countries to Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, on 17 September 2015.

Notes to editors:

  1. The document setting out the UK’s priorities for the single market is available online.
Published 28 October 2015