There should be a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.

Britian membership of the EU has been one major political issues of recent memory. With the Lisbon Treaty recently being ratified many believe that questions have to be raised about our continued presence in the EU. Referendums are uncommon occurances in Britain. However, on a issue thats as toxic and important as the EU is it the only way to resolve the issue?

There should be a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.
Yes because...

The public have a right to an opinion on such an important matter

The EU is a subject that causes consternation for MPs and members of the Public alike. As it is such an important issue many feel that a referendum is the only way to resolve the issue.[[http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1225053/A-referendum-Mr-Cameron-COULD-people.html]] The increasing threat that the EU poses to our autonomy and the acquiescence of the government as Brussels grip over our governance increases is alarming for many people within the UK. The issue has now moved on from a referendum over the Lisbon Treaty and moved on to the UK's place within the EU itself. Countries such as Norway and Switzerland which are not part of the EU still have important links within Europe. Norway is a part of the single-market, where as Switzerland has a unique bi-lateral agreement with the EU.
[[http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/9238909/Would_Britain_vote_to_leave_the_EU/]] Reaping the benefits and not suffering from any of the drawbacks. They seemingly reap the rewards of Europe yet suffer none of the drawbacks. It is time for the British to follow suit.

No because...

A referendum on an issue which the public has a limited understanding of is unlikely to produce a desirable outcome because the voters would not fully understand what is in their best interests or those of the country. Historically in surveys the UK tends to have most 'don't know' answers and the publish have a lack of understanding of how the EU works.[[http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb57/eb57_uk.pdf]] Because there is a lack of detailed understanding of the issues involved with the EU, it is easy for the debate to be misconstrued. Anti Europe campaigners could overstate the potential harms of membership, and pro campaigners could understate them. Therefore, such a referendum has the potential to produce a result which could be detrimental to the long term interests of the country.

There should be a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.
Yes because...

The EU is undemocratic and unaccountable

The European Union is run by unelected, unaccountable elites whose power is vast. They often bring in legislation that has not been voted on in our national parliament, yet supersedes our own laws that do pass through such democratic processes. "The common denominator between national and multi-level governing procedures is that each is tasked with coordinating opinion, and ultimately policy and resources, into a common pool. Power and influence within the European Union structures are divided, although somewhat disparately, between the European Parliament (EP), the Council of Ministers and the Commission. These bodies are designed to check and balance one another. In member states, citizens have the opportunity to influence national policy making through their elected officials. In the EU’s multi-tiered system, the closest a citizen comes to impacting a policy decision is through their elected representative to the European Parliament."[[http://www.eumap.org/journal/features/2005/demodef/mitchell]]

No because...

The EU is continually strengthening its structure to be democratic and accountable. MEPs are elected regionally within member states which is very much a democratic process. Further to this, MEPs vote on new legislation and represent their constituency and national party in their voting patterns. The EU budget for example has to go past MEPs who can reject it which is more than the UK's parliamant gets the chance to do most of the time.[[http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament/public/staticDisplay.do?language=EN&id=46&pageRank=7]] Deciding on important legislation through a qualified voting system also helps to illustrate the highly democratic nature of the European Council.

Although there is a perceived or actual 'democratic deficit' within the EU, EU structures are continually being reformed in order to better reflect the wishes of their stakeholders - the EU citizens themselves.

There should be a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.
Yes because...

The EU affects us more than we agreed to

EU directives must be drafted into domestic law of all the member states within a certain time limit. This means that once something has been passed by Brussels, there is very little that national governments can do about it. EU treaties have a direct effect on the running of the EU and therefore affect not only the law making apparatus of the EU but the laws of all the member states as well. This has a major impact on how our country is run, and so we should have a say in it.

No because...

We have agreed to everything often after a lot of negotiating. We are represented by a government that we elected therefore Gordon Brown signed the Lisbon Treaty.[[http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page14060]] If we dont like the policies they have and what they do in office we should kick them out in a general election. There is no reason why the expansion of the EU should mean that there should be a referendum. We almost never have referendums in the UK, but governments feel able to make big decisions without consulting the people, for example creating the NHS, going to war etc. Are changes in the EU really that much more important that they deserve a referendum. If we want to leave the EU we need to vote for a party that will take us out of the EU not have a referendum.

There should be a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.
No because...

Being a member of the European Union is beneficial to the UK's international security

Firstly, war is less likely to occur between countries that are both nations of the EU. Following the end of the Second World War, European integration became an important issue with European countries deciding that they would co-operate with each other. There has largely been peace in Europe since the end of the Second World War, and this success can largely be attributed to the existence of a European Union. Europe has changed from being the most warlike continent into one of the most peaceful and is now working to export that peace and stability into its near abroad.[[http://europa.eu/abc/panorama/whatdoes/index_en.htm]]

Secondly, being a member of the European Union allows Britain access to a free market. Over half of Britain's exports go to the European Union and over 3 million jobs are linked to these exports[1].

The EU gives businesses access to 480 Million consumers, which is fantastic for our business sector and makes us more prosperous.

The free market has increased consumer choice and goods are no longer delayed in customs by heavy paper work, making delivery times shorter, and allowing manufacturers to save money, thus bringing down the price for consumers.

The free market has been especially beneficial to the service industry, who find have found it relatively easy to access a huge portion of new customers with relative ease.

1.^http://ukeu.fco.gov.uk/en/what-we-do/consumer-business/

Yes because...
There should be a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.
No because...

Being a member of the European Union is crucial to the prosperity of the UK economy

The European Union gives businesses access to 480 Million consumers, which is fantastic for our business sector and makes us more prosperous.

The free market has increased consumer choice and goods are no longer delayed in customs by heavy paper work, making delivery times shorter, and allowing manufacturers to save money, thus bringing down the price for consumers.

The free market has been especially beneficial to the service industry, who find have found it relatively easy to access a huge portion of new customers with relative ease.

Trans-national corporations (TNCs) are companies that are based in at least two or more countries. A number of these TNCs are based in Britain such as the Nissan factory found in Sunderland. The reason these TNCs are here in the UK is because they are allowed free export throughout the EU due to the free market. This means that if we were to pull out of the EU, these companies would leave and it is estimated that 3 million people would become unemployed.

Yes because...

The EU is a drain on the British economy. A huge amount of money given to the EU is allocated to bureaucracy and wasteful spending such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). In 2006, a whopping 45% EU spending went towards the CAP,[1]. To put this in perspective, that's almost half EU spending allocated towards an industry that employs only 5% EU citizens and generates 1.6% GDP[2].

This is truly unnecessary and is unequally distributed, France reportedly benefiting immensely, while countries with very little agricultural sectors seeing few benefits, and yet expected to foot the bill for this wasteful policy.

1.^http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4407792.stm#howmuch

There should be a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.
No because...

UK citizens are unable to make an informed decision regarding EU membership

The vast majority of people do not understand the workings of the EU. They have a very limited understanding of how EU laws are made and how much they affect the lives of EU citizens. This knowledge gap would allow campaigners and the media to sensationalise the issues involved, making it even more difficult to get an unbiased understanding. In 2009 18% of UK respondents felt informed about the EU while 83% said they knew little or nothing about the EU. Only a tiny minority of the British public “strongly” agreed that the information available on EU affairs was simple and clear (4%), and a third (34%) agreed to some extent. Even worse is that a majority is willfully ignorant. More than half of the British public (54%) indicated that they did not want to receive more information about the EU. To demonstrate this ignorance When asked to estimate the UK’s net contribution to the EU budget, only 6% of respondents said it was below 3% of GNI (the actual figure is 0.21% (2007)). On average, respondents estimated that the UK transferred, annually, 23% of GNI to the EU.[[Attitudes towards the EU in the United Kingdom, Gallup, http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_274_sum_en.pdf%5D%5D If this is the case how can people complain about having a vote if they are not willing to infom themselves about the potential need for such a vote.

A referendum on an issue which the public has a limited understanding of is unlikely to produce a desirable outcome because the voters would not fully understand what is in their best interests or those of the country. Because there is a lack of detailed understanding of the issues involved with the EU, it is easy for the debate to be misconstrued. Anti Europe campaigners could overstate the potential harms of membership, and pro campaigners could understate them. In the same survey above respondents felt that EU reports on television, radio and, particularly, in the written press were too negative. Almost half (48%) perceived a negative bias in press reports. This reduces a referendum to a vote on which campaign had the best PR. This is not just pointless; it has the potential to produce a result which could be detrimental to the long term interests of the country.

Yes because...

"People don't understand the issues", "People are stupid", "People will vote according to their prejudices, not the facts", "People will be swayed by the media". These are the arguments regularly trotted out by the anti-democracy lobby every time a suggestion is made that governments should consult the populace with a referendum.

Frankly, this is insulting, condescending drivel.

There are two main flaws with this sneering supercilious reasoning.

1. The 'people' who make our laws, be they MPs, MEPs or (more usually) EU commissioners and ministers are ALSO people - so they are also swayed by the media, prejudiced, stupid and (as been admirably demonstrated by Caroline Flint's failure to even READ the treaty she intends to foist upon us) they don't understand the issues.

2. That's democracy!
If any government wishes to claim a democratic mandate from its populace, it must consult them regularly, and obey. Governments do not have any power of their own. They irregularly (and infrequently in some countries) ask to BORROW the power to make laws from the citizens, by means of a General Election. If they wish to give this power away - by allowing a supranational body to pass laws affecting them, to attempt to bind their successors, or to sign away the right of a country to veto legislation that it does not wish, they must first ask the OWNERS of the power if they agree with that - hence a referendum.

And this means a REAL referendum - not an EU-style referendum (q.v. Nice, the Constitution and Lisbon) where a 'No' vote is either ignored or treated with contempt and disdain and repeated votes held until the 'right' answer is given - why don't we ever have a second vote a few years after a 'Yes' in a referendum?
If there was any true democracy, then such referenda would have to be held regularly, perhaps every ten years. There would be countrywide referenda held on all issues of power sharing, power transference, surrender of sovereignty, or (for those that have them) alterations to the constitution - this would ensure that the EU governments are keeping pace with the desires of their citizens.

In conclusion, either you trust the people to vote - and that's called democracy - or you don't - and that's called dictatorship.

2. That's democracy!

If any government wishes to claim a democratic mandate from its populace, it must consult them regularly, and obey. Governments do not have any powert of their own. They irregularly (and infrequently in some countries) ask to BORROW the power to make laws from the citizens, by means of a General Election.

If they wish to give this power away - by allowing a supranational body to pass laws affecting them, to attempt to bind their successors, or to sign away the right of a country to veto legislation that it does not wish, they must first ask the OWNERS opf the power if they agree with that - hence a referendum.

And this means a REAL referendum - not an EU-style referendum (q.v. Nice, the Constitution and Lisbon) where a 'No' vote is either ignored or treated with contempt and disdain and repeated votes held until the 'right' answer is given - why don't we eevr have a second vote a few years after a 'Yes' in a referendum?

If there was any true democracy, then regularly - every ten years? - there would be countrywide referenda held on all issues of power sharing, power transference, surrender of sovereignty, or (for those that have them) alterations to the constitution - this would ensure that the EU governments are keeping pace with the desires of their citizens.

In conclusion, either you trust the people to vote - and that's called democracy - or you don't - and that's called dictatorship.



There should be a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.

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