What has the EP done so far?
Adelina Marini, May 3, 2009
Legislation process within the EU is a very hard process, it takes too much time and often looks senseless. The fact is that with regard to consumers, reaching a reasonable compromise always has a positive result. Of course, if a given legislation is transposed quickly with the national legislation, accurately and without any conscious or unconscious misinterpretations. So, it is very good when the elections for European and National parliaments happen to be not only in one year but within a month because one could see what those institutions actually do. In the following lines you will be able to read the basic, according to my personal opinion, most important things done by the EP and that lead to practical change in everyday life.
The Directive that has been discussed the longest and that had the toughest victory is the one for reducing the roaming prices within the EU. The Roaming Directive was one of the few legislation that went through a lot of changes because mobile operators constantly discovered hidden doors and could easily avoid the total reduce of roaming tariffs. But in the end, as of 1st of July 2009, when you receive a call when in roaming the price will per 0.26 eurocents per minute, and if you dial a number at home while being in another member state the price would be 0.43 eurocents per minute. The price of the SMS will be 11 eurocents. The prices for data transfer have also been reduced to 1 euro for 1 MB.
Taking into account the extremely expensive credits in Bulgaria which is not only due to the current crisis but also because there's almost no totally Bulgarian bank, the Directive for facilitating access to credit in another member state gives us real chances for regulation of this part of the market. The bad news is that this Directive comes into forces from 12th of May 2010 but it gives you the opportunity to take loans from 200 to 75,000 euro and obliges banks to give all the necessary standard information that could help you compare the offers. Unfortunately this Directive does not apply to mortgage credits.
Another Directive that is very useful from a consumer point of view - the creation of a blacklist of non loyal trade practices. The legislation foresees inclusion into the blacklist of companies that make fake but attractive offers. It also forbids the door-to-door trade, advertising with children and unfair advertising. The Directives is applicable since 12th of December 2007.
Another very disputable Directive was the one for free movement of services. In spite that this is the fourth pillar in the founding treaties of the EU back in 1950, with the enlargement of the EU some restriction and exceptions came into force because of the great discrepancies in the prices of services, which put barriers between "new" and "old" Europe. That is why the EP endorsed yet in 2005 the Directive which gives citizens the opportunity to offer their services in another member state like dental services, the famous Polish plumber. But there are exceptions to the Directive for services that are considered national priorities - for example security, healthcare, environment. Besides, this Directive obliges member states to cut the red tape and create "one-stop shops" which is slightly being applied in Bulgaria too. The Directive should be fully applicable as of 28th of December 2009.
And one more thing which affects young people but, unfortunately, in Bulgaria is transposed in half and is practically impossible to use - the facilitation in comparison of educational qualifications. To facilitate mobility of students and workers the EP approved legislation which will make it easier as of 2012 the comparison in qualifications from school, vocational education and academic degrees. Another Directive, which is already applicable, recognizes the diplomas issued in any member state but for specific professions like doctors, nurses and architects. We should note here that all member states have kept their right to check professional qualifications before allowing a foreigner to practice. With regard to Bulgaria the so called credit system still doesn't give any clear idea what kind of education is behind x credits. Beside that, the procedure for legalising a diploma, obtained in the EU by the Ministry of Education unbelievably long time.
The EP is the reason for the application of so many small, at first glance, things which have a long term effect over our lives like the establishment of the Globalisation fund with 500 mn. euro reserve that is aimed at helping people who lost their jobs. The workers, hired temporarily will be able to receive the same salary and conditions as those with permanent contracts. The EP has also forbidden the use of mercury in thermometres as of October 2009 - this could be appreciated by mothers with small children. Last but not least all the legislation related to the environment which from a driver's point of view might be very restrictive but if we think of the children of our children then we would easily accept a less powerful car or a more expensive powerful one.