Many areas of our lives, including healthcare abroad, keeping our homes warm and travel rights, are protected by EU laws that need much greater attention during Brexit negotiations. That’s why we’ve launched our Consumer Charter.
Politicians have been playing Punch and Judy over Brexit for the past 18 months – and it’s true that there is plenty to fight about. Yet for all the undoubted drama, some of the most important issues affecting our lives in this country have barely been discussed.
New Brexit charter for consumers
These issues include the EU rules that ensure imported food is safe, that give us access to vital healthcare for ourselves and our children in neighbouring countries, and which give us cheap phone calls abroad. Even airline travel would, for a while at least, become extremely difficult.
That’s why today we’ve launched our Consumer Charter – and called on the government to embrace our blueprint for protecting our rights.
We want to work with ministers and with businesses to stop important consumer rights from being diluted or, worse still, lost entirely if negotiations go badly wrong.
We recently contacted the UK’s five biggest travel companies (Thomas Cook, TUI, Jet 2, Expedia, and On the Beach) to see what information they were providing about the possible status of flights being booked for travel after the UK has left the EU. We found that it wasn’t clear what the consequences of an aviation deal not being in place once the UK leaves the EU would be.
This could leave holidaymakers who are booking holidays from 29 March 2019 in limbo. We want the government to make sure the same level of access is maintained after Brexit and provide clarity as soon as possible about consumers’ rights and airline obligations.
Time to work together
This uncertainty for holidaymakers is just one of the many issues affecting our everyday lives that needs to be a priority as we move closer to the date that we leave the EU. We want to work with government and businesses on these issues to help deliver a Brexit that puts consumers first.
This is not to reach a judgment about a hard Brexit, a soft Brexit or any kind of Brexit. Just a plea that the interests of ordinary consumers get the priority they deserve.
At a minimum, we should fight to maintain what we currently have in place in all areas that affect consumers. In an ideal world, we will improve the situation of consumers.
Consumer needs must come first
Which? research has shown that many people haven’t really considered any of these issues. Our fear is that some of our politicians haven’t sufficiently considered them, either. And we cannot sweep these critical consumer issues under the carpet and just expect everything to work out.
We have set out a Charter that we believe will put consumers first in Brexit negotiations and provides solutions on what can be done to improve how our systems currently work.
The Charter sets out more detailed priorities that need immediate action from government to make Brexit a success. These concentrate on the areas of consumer landscape, food, energy, travel and transition – highlighting not just the potential risks for consumers, but the opportunities to improve our existing systems as we leave the EU.
What are your views?
Do you support our Charter? What consumer issues would you like the government to address in its negotiations?
This is an edited version of an article that recently appeared on This is Money.