The UK is more prosperous as a result of membership of the EU
The UK has been a member of the European Community since 1973, and makes sizable financial contributions to the EU’s funds. Is this investment worth it? Or are we being financially hurt for little gain?
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The EU is primarily a free trade zone. This means that member states cannot put barriers to imports and exports between the member states. This has been hugely beneficial to businesses within the EU because it means that they can export their products more easily and import materials without worrying about tariffs. As UK businesses have been able to get cheaper materials and easier access to European markets they have become more profitable. This benefits the UK economy as a whole, increasing the UK’s prosperity.
This is nonsense. The EU is the largest tariff barrier against trade often with our former Commonwealth allies, some of which could do with the trade.
EU wide relations
The EU provides an excellent forum for discussion and cooperation between its members. By working together on issues such as trade, the economy, the environment and other issues on which the EU legislates links are made which can be used for other matters. If the UK had never joined the EU, or if it were to withdraw, it would be seen as isolationist and uncooperative. This would worsen our relations with other EU members and we would be less able to work with them for our mutual benefit.
Belonging to the EU means our own interests with discussions with the rest of the world are muted and compromised.
The EU was feeble in its response to financial crisis, played no meaningful response to Afghanistan,Collapse of Yugoslavia or the invasion of Iraq.
Councillor Steve Radford Liberal Party
Since the single market was introduced in 1993 the EU has managed to eliminate a variety of anti competitive practices such as monopolies, cartels and excessive unnecessary regulation. For example an investigation into price fixing in the UK for replica football kits resulted in large price reductions and wider consumer choice. [[BERR, European Union Membership; the benefits, http://www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/europeandtrade/europe/benefits-eu-membership/page22676.html%5D%5D
Greater competition in all areas isn't always a good thing for the consumer. Take the Post Office for example: This year the Royal Mail made a loss of around (£100 million) for the first time in its history. As a result around two thousand five hundred post offices face closure. This will further weaken a system that had before EU regulations amongst other factors been giving a equal decent amount of provisions to both rural and urban communities. For example there used to be two deliveries of mail each day now there is only one. Hardly a good example of competition improving services in all areas.
Advantages of the single market
In an assessment published by the European Commission in 2003 to celebrate ten years of the single market. They published statistics to show various achievements. a summary of these are as follows:
*EU Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2002 was 1.8% higher (€164.5 billion) [£110 billion] than it would have been without the Single Market.
*Over ten years, the Single Market has boosted the EU’s GDP by €877 billion [£588 billion]. This represents €5,700 [£3,819] of extra income per household.
*EU Employment has grown (1992-2002) by 1.46% (an extra 2.5 million jobs) thanks to the Internal Market. Up to 3 million British jobs are linked to exports to the EU, around ten percent of the total workforce.
*Intra-EU trade has increased as a percentage of GDP from less than 25% in 1993 to 35% in 2005
*Foreign direct investment in the Single Market has risen from €23 billion [£15.4 billion] in 1992 to €159 billion [ £106.5 billion] in 2005.
*60 Million customs clearance documents per year no longer need to be completed, cutting bureaucracy and reducing costs and delivery times.[[BERR, European Union Membership; the benefits, http://www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/europeandtrade/europe/benefits-eu-membership/page22676.html%5D%5D
Aside from a point about the data mentioned in the yes argument being five years out of date it is important to note that the Single Market can also take trade away opportunities from the UK. This is particularly true when it comes to small businesses which can struggle to or go out of business as a result of being unable to meet the regulations imposed. For instance some new rules which have been proposed by the European Commission would mean that fund managers would have to register with a member states government and had have to provide large amounts of information such as governance, reporting and risk requirements. These proposed rules have been described by financial experts as something that could take away business from the UK, something that will add to the problems of an already strained British banking and finance sector.
[[ Brooke Masters and Martin Arnold "Hedge Managers warn EU plans" http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d5eaa8a2-34c1-11de-940a-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1%5D%5D
As a result of the Schengen agreement EU citizens are able to travel around Europe freely without the problems and hassle of constantly going through border controls when going through countries such as the UK and France. This makes conducting business and going on holiday within the twenty two different countries (France Italy Germany and Spain to name but a few) much easier due to the reduced time spent going through the formalities of a passport check but also allows for stronger co-operation between states which is . It is also something that can be temporarily bypassed in times of public emergency allowing for tough measures to be implemented[[ European Commission Your Europe- Citizens-Schengen.http://ec.europa.eu/youreurope/nav/cs/citizens/travelling/schengen-area/index_en.html%5D%5D
The UK benefits from improved police co-operation and the free movement of its citizens inside the agreement area but Schengen is an example of where it could be potentially benefit more than it does.
Less border controls means an increased opportunity for human traffickers and uncontrolled immigration something that seems to cause a lot of problems. It also means that the UK has to rely on border controls of former states such as Latvia and Ukraine. The UK may not benefit from the "convenience" of the Schengen agreement but it suffers from the debris generated by the lax border controls something that also worries politicians in other countries including ones in Germany. [[ UKIP Schengen will be disaster for Britain http://www.ukip.org/content/latest-news/399-schengen-will-be-disaster-for-britain Accessed 6.5.09]]
The EU funds a wide range of projects in its member states, to help their trade and development. This funding is used for things like roads, railways, agriculture; things that will help their development into high performing trading partners in the EU. The majority of this aid is directed at the newer Eastern European member states, and is funded by the older members. The UK falls into the latter category. Therefore we are funding road building in Estonia whilst not getting any financial benefits of our own. This is backed up by the fact that over the period 1992-2003 Britain spent a cumulative figure of £104 billion to EU institutions, yet only received £64 billion back resulting in a loss of £40 billion. [[Sovreignty.org, The cost of Britans EU Membership, December 2003, http://www.sovereignty.org.uk/features/articles/rebut2.html%5D%5D
The EU is also prepared to provide investment into the UK as well and in ways that promote innovative research which is beneficial to the UK. For example the European Investment Bank today provided two loans to Nissan and Land Rover for the production of cleaner vehicles. The combined total of the loans is worth half a billion a small amount but a significant amount of a package worth seven billion euros across the EU
.[[BBC News- Business- UK Car firms get European Funding http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7986755.stm%5D%5D.
In addition strengthening the new member EU states like Estonia now will increase their chances of developing into trading partners that the UK can invest in making it potentially prosperous in the long run.
Membership of the EU means that the UK has given up a lot of its law making powers, as EU directives override national law. This means that the UK government cannot make decisions on things such as regulation of business, as this falls under EU jurisdiction. In many matters the best interests of the UK and those of the EU are different, and would be best served by different courses of action. But because of the UK’s abdication of sovereignty to the EU, in these situations the UK government is forced to act how the EU wants it to. For example freedom of movement may be in the best interests of the EU as a whole, but it is detrimental to the UK economy to have to take in lots of migrant workers willing to undercut UK labour prices.
Furthermore, the UK has a long tradition of being a soveriegn state and takes pride in being a nation that althought participates in wider trade, remains able to be independent.
EU directives may override national law but they are made and voted on by elected British members (of which there are over 10% of the entire parliament ) of the European Parliament and British Ministers which in the UK case are mainly elected members of parliament. Further more the British Commissioner to the European is a person appointed by the prime minister who is in turn an elected member of parliament so I would argue that the UK has delegated powers but not entirely responsibility for those powers to Europe. [[ Corbett Jeremy http://www.euromove.org.uk/fileadmin/files_euromove/downloads/policy5.pdf%5D%5D
In response to the point about the UK being a sovereign nation tradition isn't always a good thing and increasingly in a more globalised and interdependent world there are some issues like transnational crime where the UK may have to transfer a degree of sovereignity in order for them to be addressed more effectively.
Although the current exchange does not put the pound at a particular advantage over the Euro, or any other currency for that matter, when the economy stabilises the pound will return to being stronger than the Euro.
This point is irrelevant with regard to this debate. Although the countries in the Euro zone are countries in the European Union membership of the Euro is not compulsory for states.
There are major entrenched European policies that are harmful to the UK
There are major European Policies that the UK pays out for which actually harm British interests rather than help them what's more these policies are unlikely to be reformed because of entrenched interests both political and from business. Take the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for example: Almost half of the EC's yearly budget is spent on maintaining. For the UK this is something that amounts to amount between £ 15 and 23 billion each year (1-2% of our GDP)[[Batten Richard "How much does the European Union cost Britain" UKIP http://www.ukip.org/media/pdf/eucost08.pdf p15]. . This is something that given rising levels of debt that the UK can ill afford to be paying for: a policy that harms small and medium sized farms and customers and only benefits "major land owners" and large scale farmers [[Batten Richard "How much does the European Union cost Britain" UKIP http://www.ukip.org/media/pdf/eucost08.pdf p19]].
What's more any attempt to reform the CAP by the UK or promise to has ended in no action. In 2005 The UK gave away a large part of its rebate in exchange for what it thought would be a review but no action was taken as the review was "downgraded to a health check" that recommended no major changes to the EU's budget including the CAP until 2014.[[Batten Richard "How much does the European Union cost Britain" UKIP http://www.ukip.org/media/pdf/eucost08.pdf p19]]. This goes to show there are some policies that are so entrenched due to vested interests in the EU for keeping things as they are which offer no benefit to the UK and could be harmful.
The UK is over-regulated as a result of EU directives
A lot of European Regulation is over regulation which chokes British businesses and means they can not effectively compete with other countries in the world outside the EU. Notorious examples includes the Working Time directive something that costs the UK around £1.8 billion a year and the Data Protection Bill which costs the UK around 1.2 billion a year [[Batten Richard "How much does the European Union cost Britain" UKIP http://www.ukip.org/media/pdf/eucost08.pdf p21]]. A lot of the regulation has to do with creating standardising the single market something that does not necessarily mean that the regulation is necessary or beneficial to the British economy.
Any regulations that are relevant and beneficial can be equally enacted by national government in a way which is most attuned to the needs of the country without the intervention or costs of the EU.
[[Batten Richard "How much does the European Union cost Britain" UKIP http://www.ukip.org/media/pdf/eucost08.pdf p21]].
Some of these directives actually strengthen the UK and it's consumers and workers rather than harm them overall. For instance The Working time directive despite its cost is can be seen by people as a good piece of legislation that improves the mental health and safety of European workers and their friends and relations by countering against mental conditions such as depression and physical illnesses such as heart disease [[The Greens/Les Verts "Working time Directive European Parliament calls time on opt outs and excessive hours http://firstname.lastname@example.org Accessed 6.5.09]]
What do you think?