Posts tagged europe
Posts tagged europe
Stay Calm and Keep Barking!
(This image is from The Guardian. Click for original source.)
I was dismayed to see on here earlier, an article, one of many, on why the UK should leave the EU. It lead with the usual sensational argument which centred around how much EU membership costs us and how unhelpful all the bureaucracy can be…blah blah blah, etc etc.
But to lead with this argument is to behave as irresponsibly as our right wing red tops, and focus on the least important aspect of the entire debate, and here’s why I say this…
We’re too quick to forget in this country that we are a declining power in this world. Gone is the empire, gone are the days of marching into other countries and taking what we need to maintain superiority and gone is the respect based upon fear that many countries have viewed us with in the past, and rightly so, and yes we are still a superior economy, but even that is waning. The future as you are all aware lies not with Europe but with China, India, Russia, and Brazil, along with some other successful East Asian economies. And what does this have to do with our EU membership?
Well, one of the core ideas of joining together in Europe is that we may form an economic block that will maintain our relevance in the coming age.
To prattle on about parliamentary sovereignty and independence being undermined by EU decisions is to miss the point entirely. We need to be part of something bigger than just our own island if we want to avoid becoming the pawns on the chess board of the future, instead of the bishops, kings and queens. Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Poland, Romania, big or small we are nothing without each other, and this will become obvious as time rolls on.
Beyond visions of the future, back in the here and now, European membership offers us far more economically than we are often aware of.
1. Free Trade. Trade with EU countries now accounts for over 60% of UK’s trade (compared to 16% for US). This has helped create jobs in the export sector and is an important determinant of UK growth.
2. Lower Prices for Consumers. Free trade and increased competitiveness of the EU has enabled consumers to benefit from lower prices, at least for some goods.
3. Regional aid. Areas like South Wales and the North East of England benefited from European regional grants which helped the local economies improve.
4. Harmonisation of Rules and regulations: These have reduced costs for business operating on the continent
5. EU rebate (negotiated by Mrs Thatcher) means that membership of the EU costs effectively very little.
And politically, the EU is vital too…
1. All member countries contribute to the development of a United Europe. We all elect representatives and we all take part. This in turn enhances all the democracies of Europe. It’s not as the red tops suggest, a group in which the rich subsidise the poor with no return and no say.
2. All member states co-operate militarily to ensure each other’s safety. An invasion of Europe although unlikely would never be allowed to proceed because it is in every nation’s interest to protect the continent.
3. States of the European Union have virtually no boundaries between them, meaning movement without visas and freedom to work anywhere in the EU. On a cultural level this also helps to tie us all together, and enrich all cultures with elements of others.
And beyond all the major issues listed above, the EU is involved in ensuring all member states tackle climate change, poverty both foreign and domestic, it offers a further appeal court if a nation had acted unfairly in its legal processes and many other issues which affect our daily lives. Left to their own devices, it is inconceivable that nations would ever group together to do anything that wasn’t purely for their own benefit.
So all I ask is that when figures are quoted of how much the EU costs, instead of gasping in sheer horror and running to complain to your MP, you first consider two things. Firstly how much we actually get in return…because it’s A LOT. And secondly, subsidising weaker economies within a union helps us all to remain stronger as a unit. And without each other, in the future European power will be a mere relic, consigned to the text books of history. I fear it is only then that we will realise the importance of co-operation.