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EU and you in 2009 - 28/12/2009

Crocuses blooming in the snow © EC

Time for the end-of-year review - what has the EU done for Europeans in 2009?

The EU does make a difference to people's everyday lives in Europe, even though they're not always aware of it. The goal is always to respond to the real concerns that people have, as citizens, consumers or workers.

This year, we've been dealing with the consequences of the financial crisis. The EU has worked hard to limit the damage with an economic recovery plan designed to protect people's jobs and savings.

We've also been busy defending consumers' interests. The price of making and receiving mobile calls and sending text messages to and from other EU countries has come down, for instance.

And the EU has carried out a major online shopping survey, looking at websites selling airline tickets, for example, and ensuring that they respect consumer rights' legislation. When you book a flight online, the site must tell you about any additional costs - such as a charge for paying by credit card - right at the start of the booking process. They can't just add it on to the price of the ticket at the end.

The EU has been active on green issues too, with new rules on emissions of harmful fumes at petrol stations and pesticide use, for example.

And it has been taking the lead in the fight against climate change. There have been a range of measures to cut down on the amount of energy consumed by everyday appliances, including basic items like lightbulbs - the old incandescent ones are gradually being phased out in favour of low-energy bulbs. These measures should help deliver a 12% reduction in electricity consumption in the EU by 2020.

Finally, the EU has come to the aid of people in need. For example, it granted €500m to help Italy deal with the aftermath of the earthquake in Abruzzo in April 2009. And the EU is still the biggest donor of development aid, and takes an active role in fighting poverty and hunger in the world.

Europe and you in 2009

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