With all the discussion of international trade, issues of sovereignty and the UK’s place in the world it is easy to forget the many ways the European Union has had a profound impact on everyday life.
Membership of the EU has allowed everyone in the UK to benefit from the European Common Aviation Area. A direct cause of the rise low cost airlines, the single aviation area has reduced fares and opened up be routes for travellers.
Let’s look at the history to see why this is an achievement of direct EU intervention, that would not have been possible without its existence. In 1992, the EU pushed ahead with its third but biggest and most important effort at deregulation in the airline industry. This allowed carriers from one EU state the right to operate scheduled services between (and within) other Member States.
According to Easyjet the freedom to fly across Europe has reduced fares by 40% and increased the number of routes increase by 180%. Making travel easier has not just benefitted holidaymakers and the tourist industry, it has increased labour mobility and employment opportunities, as well as facilitating trade.
The expansion of the EU has also played a major role. With each new country joining the EU comes new routes and destinations for tourists and business people. With increased choice comes new experiences and opportunities. The increase choice equates to increased competition therefore further reducing fares.
Falling travel costs have also had a remarkable social effect, making overseas travel increasingly affordable to an ever widening number of Britons. So next time you board a Ryanair flight to one of 192 destinations remember that you have the EU to thank for the cost of your fare and the variety of your choice.