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Travellers face Eurostar disruption if there's no Brexit deal

Eurostar travellers face disruption if there's a no-deal Brexit, and subscribers to services such as Netflix and Spotify may not be able use them while abroad. 

The Government has today published a collection of papers that set out its plans in the "unlikely event" there is no deal in place between the UK and the EU's other member states when we exit the union on 29 March 2019.

The papers set out some of the possible impacts on consumers, including: 

Last month, the Government published the first of its papers titled How to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal, including how EU roaming and passport rules will be affected and how flights and coach travel may be affected.

The Eurostar could be disrupted

Currently there are daily cross-border train services that operate between Britain and European countries, including the Eurostar services.

In the event of no deal these could be disrupted. After 29 March 2019, the Government says that the UK and European countries would need to have mutual recognition of all necessary documentation, so that operators from the UK and the EU can continue to operate cross-border services without disruption after exit.

If this isn't achieved, train services between the UK and the EU could be disrupted. The Government says that passengers using cross-border services are "responsible for ensuring that their insurance and ticket terms and conditions are sufficient to cover possible disruption".

A spokesperson for Eurostar said: "We are having constructive conversations with the Government on Brexit and will continue to do so.

"At this point in time, we plan and expect to maintain services on the existing basis and timetable following Brexit."

In the event of a deal, it is hoped that services wouldn't be disrupted. The Government says that "given the large amount of trade and citizens travelling" on cross-border services, it hopes an agreement can be made.

You may not be able to watch Netflix in EU countries

Currently, people from the UK are able to use subscription accounts on services such as Netflix and Spotify while travelling or staying in the EU.

In the event of no deal, you may not be able to. Under the EU-wide "portability regulation", which was agreed in 2017 and has been in force since April this year, citizens can access accounts set up and based in one country while visiting other member states.

But the Government's papers state: "The portability regulation will cease to apply to UK nationals when they travel to the EU". This means online content service providers will "not be required or able to offer cross-border access to UK consumers under the EU regulation."

However, Netflix has hit back and said: "UK Netflix subscribers are able to access Netflix everywhere in the world that Netflix is available and will continue to do so once the UK leaves the EU."

When contacted by MoneySavingExpert.com, Spotify declined to comment.

You'd no longer be able to use UK courts to seek redress from EU traders

EU consumer protection legislation ensures consumers across the EU can buy goods and services from other EU countries, knowing that the protections and safety standards are the same or similar in every EU member state.

For example, if a UK consumer buys an item from an EU-based trader and the item does not arrive or there is a problem, the UK consumer can use UK law and the UK courts for redress, and judgment will be recognised in the EU member state in question.

In the event of no deal, you won't be able to use UK courts. The Government says that it is taking steps to ensure that after exit UK consumers will retain the protections they currently have when buying from UK businesses. But laws of EU states may differ in some areas to UK law as respective laws evolve over time.

UK consumers would also need to seek redress through the courts of the state they bought an items from rather than UK courts, as UK decisions wouldn't be enforceable.

You'd still be protected if you buy package holidays from EU companies that target the UK

Currently, travel firms that target UK consumers have to provide protection to them in the event of their company going bust. 

In the event of no deal, they will still have to. The Government says it will amend UK law so that EU traders selling package holidays or Linked Travel Arrangements in the UK, or specifically targeting these at customers in the UK, will be required to comply with the insolvency protection requirements.

It has not yet made clear how it would define how a company would be deemed to have targeted UK consumers.

It's worth bearing in mind though that consumers who purchase packages from EU-based traders which are not targeting business activities at the UK will not have to be protected.

Cross-border civil claims would be more difficult

Currently the UK bases its decisions regarding cross-border civil cases on EU rules, including where a case should be heard, which country's laws apply and how the case and judgment is handled.

In the event of no deal, claims would be more difficult. If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, UK citizens, families and businesses will no longer benefit from these rules.

The rules include the order which allows cross-border small claims court cases, worth up to €5,000, and the paper warns in the event of a no-deal Brexit, some judgments by UK courts may not be recognised in other countries.

The paper states: "Any party to a cross-border legal dispute, including businesses, consumers and families, would need to consider the effect that these changes would have on any existing or future cases involving parties in EU countries. Where appropriate you may wish to seek professional legal advice on the implications of these changes for your individual circumstances."