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The campaign Speak up Europe has begun and aims to ignite a lively debate about the European Union (EU) and its future. We want to know what you think the EU should do and not do, where it should engage itself and how it should do it... Have your say, join the debate!
What has Europe done ?
Safer and Cheaper Flights
The EU has provided us with not only safer flights but also cheaper flights and increased competition between carriers registered in the Member States. Cheaper flights are the knock-on effect of a huge improvement in air traffic management and increased competition.
Within the last 10 years the EU has created different education programmes in order to give students the possibility to experience different national cultures and broaden their personal horizon. Up to now 1.2 million students have benefited from the ERASMUS Programme and many more are expected to experience it in the future.
The Single Market is one of a kind as it guarantees ‘free movement' of people, goods, services and capital. At a practical level, it provides the possibility for EU citizens to live, work, study and do business throughout the EU, as well as enjoy a wide choice of competitively priced goods and services.
Intellectual property deals with two areas: industrial property and copyrights. Basically, it means that you are not allowed to use somebody else's ideas, for example, if your best friend has written lyrics to a song, you can not publish it in your name. The EU's efforts in this area have resulted in laws aiming at protecting company's or individual's knowledge.
Peace in Europe was first created when an alliance was made between Germany and France and the European Coal and Steel Community was founded. Europe has come along way since with a lasting peace amongst its Member States. International security is now a major issue for the EU: with increasing threats to a peaceful society in different areas of the world, the EU has put in place many policies to combat such problems.
The single currency, the Euro, is now part of our everyday life but not all of its benefits are well known. From the practical advantages of travelling with a single currency, to the benefits of economic growth, to the strengthening of the EU international role and its political integration, the introduction of the euro has achieved much more than people expected.
Unity and solidarity are some of the most significant aims for the EU. One important reason why the European regional policies have been created is because the EU is of the opinion that equal standards and rights should be provided to all citizens.
The liberalisation of the telecommunication markets in 1998 and the ongoing development in the field of technology have resulted in a steady decrease in prices within the EU. This means that it is cheaper to call your friends and family and choose between different operators.
NEW: Consumer protection and the safety of food in the European Union are two issues that have always gone hand in hand. The Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General's main responsibility is to provide laws and regulations on the safety of food and consumer rights.
The public health issues dealt with by the EU are numerous and cover a number of different areas. They concern both men and women, young and old. The EU has also introduced the European health insurance card that is your guarantee if you should fall ill when going abroad.
In the EU, environmental issues including initiatives concerning protection have been underlined as some of the most important points not only for discussion but also for action. For instance, the EU is leading the "Kyoto" drive to reduce the air pollution that causes global warming.
The promotion of equal opportunities and the fight against Discrimination are considered some of the most important issues within Europe and many directives have been put in place to combat inequalities that occur in the Member States. 2007 is officially the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All. Additionally the "Roadmap for equality between women and men 2006-2010" was launched outlining 6 priority areas for EU action on gender equality.
External trade for Europe has always been very important to the success of the European Union. In recent years our level of trade has increased and we are continuing to grow as major players in the world of trade. Today, the EU accounts for 20% of global imports and exports and is now the world's biggest trader.