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With Brexit seemingly a permanent fixture on every TV channel and newspaper, gender and race disparity as prominent as ever and climate change on everyone's minds; the European Union elections have never been more important.

To coincide with the upcoming election, the EU has launched the 'This Time I'm Voting' campaign to encourage citizens to vote this time around.

Member states nominate direct candidates for the European Parliament through proportional representation. but with numerous EU parliamentarians represented on Twitter, it's hugely convenient to have debates online and exhange views.

The #ThisTimeImVoting campaign explains EU issues and elaborates on the ways in which every vote affects the living conditions of EU citizens.

This #EUelections2019 campaign is being introduced in 25 relevant languages to reach as many people as possible.

Factually-correct information is available on Twitter for first-time voters and EU election experts alike.

A large aspect of the public election conversation is happening via Twitter, which is why the site is showing support by introducing a special emoji for the #ThisTimeImVoting campaign.

The elections for local and EU seats as well as the divorce referendum take place on May 24, make sure you're there.

Every vote counts, so don't forget to make your mark on Europe. 

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Those extra amounts you pay for using credit or debit cards rather than cash seem like so little, but they really do add up.

Thankfully, though, the EU ban on card surcharges comes into effect today, Newstalk reports.

This EU directive is meant to make electronic payments safer, faster, and easier. It bans additional charges for payments with debit or credit cards online or in shops.

Imagine all the money we'll save! In fact, Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission vice-president in charge of financial services, said that this move could save EU consumers €550M a year.

The new rules will tighten security on electronic payments. They will also open the EU payment market to companies offering payment services.

As well, the directive will reduce customer liability for unauthorised payments. There is a new 'no questions asked' refund policy, with money reimbursed via direct debit in euro.

While we're just happy to see our wallets won't be so hard hit, EU politicians have said this is the next step 'towards a digital single market in the EU'.

"It will promote the development of innovative online and mobile payments, which will benefit the economy and growth," Valdis told Newstalk.

However, apparently some at the UK's Consumer Council are worried that shops will increase their prices to make up for the loss of card surcharges, the Irish Times reports.

"Already there is evidence of some companies replacing the card surcharge with a ‘service charge’. We may also see more businesses impose a minimum spending limit or a refusal of card payments altogether," the Consumer Council told the Irish Times.

"However, in spite of these fears, we believe the ban is a positive move as prices should become more transparent, making shopping around and price comparison easier for consumers."

Hmm… does anyone else have the sudden urge to do some online shopping?

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Freedom of movement of labour between the United Kingdom and the European Union will end in the spring of 2019, UK immigration minister, Brandon Lewis said this morning.

A new immigration system will be put in place by March 2019, though the details of this are not yet known.

The news comes as the government commissioned a “detailed assessment” of the costs and benefits of EU migrants.

The report is due to be completed in September 2018, six months before the UK's proposed exit date.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary, Amber Rudd insisted Britain would remain open to skilled workers from the EU after Brexit, insisting she wanted the “brightest and best” to know they could still choose to live and work in Britain after the new immigration laws are put in place.

She told The Financial Times: "Once we have left the EU, this government will apply its own immigration rules and requirements that will meet the needs of UK businesses, but also of wider society.”

"I also want to reassure businesses and EU nationals that we will ensure there is no 'cliff edge' once we leave the bloc."

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One of the most inconvenient things about heading on holiday has to be the roaming charges, so we're happy to say that they will soon be a thing of the past. 

The European Union is set to abolish mobile phone roaming charges from June 15 following a vote in the European Parliament.

"The EU has worked steadily over the past number of years to tackle roaming charges on behalf of consumers," reads a statement from the European Consumer Centre of Ireland.

"Since the 2007 introduction of the Eurotariff, charges have been consistently reduced as caps were placed on the maximum permissible amount operators could impose on consumers."

From June, there will be no additional charges for phone calls, texts ot data usage when travelling to any other EU country. 

"Europeans will no longer be in a state of shock when they get their telephone bills," said Finnish MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri,

That's some seriously good news for summer holiday makers. 

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If you’ve ever witnessed a bad breakup, you’ll know that the weeks following a split can be a tad self-indulgent and always require the assistance of Ben & Jerry.

But as weeks turn into months, something incredible happens.

New dresses are bought, hair gets did, and slowly but surely the breakupee begins to show the breakuper exactly what they’re missing.

Well, that’s kind of the situation with Britain and Europe right now, as in the aftermath of Brexit the EU could be about to offer its young citizens one very big advantage over their British counterparts.

MEP’s have proposed giving EU citizens free InterRail tickets for their 18th birthdays in a bid to reignite enthusiasm for Europe.

But since Britain has voted itself out of the union, its teenagers will not be receiving the coveted passes which allow people under 26 to travel across the continent by train.

While it’s still very early days, the FreeInterrail campaign has been greeted with much enthusiasm by European parliament members and, of course, by the teens who could benefit from the initiative.

Did we mention we love Europe?

Feat image: gapyear.com

GIFs: giphy.com

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The Government's controversial plans to make wine, beer and spirits more expensive has hit something of a speed bump… and now may not be implemented at all. 

Although the proposals have been given the nod by the European Health Commissioner the move may still be illegal in the eyes of Brussels. 

That's because of the European single market – a basis under which some ten mainly alcohol-producing EU countries have now objected to Ireland's plans for more pricey booze. 

Ireland has a per capita consumption of ten litres per annum, a figure which puts us behind the likes of the Czech Republic, Russia, Austria and Lithuania – but globally still very much in the Top Ten drinking nations. 

We currently consume about the same amount as France and Australia.

Whether the proposed bills makes it through the Oireachtas will also largely rest of the success of a similar bid to introduce minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland. 

There, the EU has said that the proposals CAN be implemented on public health grounds – but only if there are no other alternatives. 

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Let's face it, one of the easiest ways to initiate a rip-roaring debate among your peers is to question the validity of the Irish language in modern society, and watch as normally mild-mannered people dig their heels in and argue the toss over the first official language of the Republic.

While a number of us admit we barely have cúpla focal after 12 years learning the language, others insist it's up to us to keep the Irish language alive – a difference of opinion which really came to the fore on social media over the past week.

With 62 Irish-language translator positions currently available with the EU, Publicjobs took to Facebook to remind potential candidates that the deadline for these 'well remunerated positions' was looming, and it's definitely rubbed a number of people up the wrong way.

Commenting on the position which boasts a salary of approximately €52,000 per year, one Facebook user wrote: "Waste of money that could be well spend somewhere else,"

"What's the point, we speak English in Ireland everywhere – schools, work, pubs, doctors, hospitals…unless everyone starts speaking Irish, it is a total waste of money on translations."

"The Irish language is an integral part of our heritage," argued another. "Although it is not as widely spoken as I would like it to be I hear the cúpla focal spoken almost every day at work. I think it's very important to do everything we can to keep it alive."

Cited as a 'great entry point into different careers within the European Union', social media users have taken umbrage with the suggestion that those fluent in the language will have better options in the future.

"Only problem is the people who get the jobs will be connected and have the pull. A lot of the best candidates won't be considered because of their background," argued another.

Insistent that the debate has more to do with the actual job and less to do with the language, another wrote; "It's not about reading and speaking Irish"

"It's about paying people to do a pointless job; no Irish MEP needs anything translated into Irish, since they all speak fluent English. That is a cynical abuse of EU taxpayer's money."

The post has been inundated with comments since it was published last week with debate continuing to rage on Facebook today.

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If you're heading away on holidays any time soon, then you're going to see a dramatic drop in roaming charges.

From today on, there will be a big reduction for people downloading data, like emails and pictures, with cuts of up to 75%.

Charges for calling home will also be cut by a significant amount and the charge for texting will be reduced by around 66%.

European users travelling will pay no more than an extra €0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 for each text and €0.05 for every megabyte of data.

These figures will be the highest network operators will be allowed to pay their customers.

This is the latest move that will see the the total scrapping of all roaming charges in the EU from June 15, 2017.

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We are not now nor have we ever been a large country – but we are certainly getting bigger. 

In fact, when it comes to population growth, Ireland is booming. Last year, there were 4,605,500 of us knocking around; this year, that's swelled to 4,625,900.

According to Eurostat, we continue to have the highest birthrate in Europe, and the second lowest rate of deaths (behind only Cyprus): 66,500 babies were born here with only 29,300 deaths occurring. 

Gordon D'Arcy and Aoife Cogan welcomed a daughter in May

 

In contrast, 700,000 babies were born in Germany, but 875,000 Germans died.

However, with 16 percent of the total EU population (81.2million people), Germany continues to be the most populated EU country, ahead of France (66.4million residents) and the United Kingdom (64.8million residents).

On 1 January 2015, the population of the European Union was 508.2million, compared with 506.9 million the year before.

In March, Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy said the island of Ireland can expect to hit a population of 10million before 2050.

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Georgia May Jagger’s latest campaign for Italian designer, Cavalli, has caused great offense to Sufi Muslims, due to it’s use of symbols in it’s advertisements.

Jagger is pictured only wearing a bra for the new designer’s new fragrance, Just Cavalli.

But what has caused the most offense to Sufi Muslims, is the H-like symbol on Georgia’s wrist and neck, which is shaped similarly to a Sufi symbol that represents “Allah”, or God – a sign of love and unity.

Protests took place last week as part of a global campaign to have the symbol removed from the label’s campaign.

Despite protests Cavalli has insisted that it’s the same symbol he has been using for all of his campaigns since 2011. It seems the EU is also on Cavalli’s side after Sufi Muslims called for the symbol to be removed from previous campaigns.

A spokesperson for Cavalli said that the label is “deeply saddened by the distress expressed by” the Sufi community, but hopes that the EU ruling will “convince the Sufist religion of the complete good faith and the groundlessness of their requests”.

georgiamayh

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