Four reasons Britain should stay in the EU

As a Daily Express poll shows a large number of Britons in favour of a referendum on EU membership, we outline the case for Britain remaining in Europe.

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The Daily Express reports today that over 80% of Britons now want a referendum on EU membership:

“Nearly half of voters – 49 per cent – want their voices heard straight away”, the paper claims, while “a further third, 33 per cent, believe that there should be a vote ‘in the next few years’.”

Given the continuing Eurozone crisis, and recent statements by the chancellor, George Osborne, and Lord Owen, the question of an EU referendum appears once again to be bubbling away.

In anticipation of any upcoming fight, here are Left Foot Forward’s four reasons to remain in the European Union:

1) The trade argument:

As the (largely Eurosceptic) Open Europe thinktank recently made clear, membership of the EU remains decisively in the best interests of British trade.

It gives the UK access to what continues to be a continually growing single market, governed by a single set of regulations that cuts costs and facilitates a much greater potential trade. In total, 60 per cent of British trade is with EU countries, involving 700,000 UK companies. Our EU trade provides 3.5 million jobs.

It fosters cross-border competition, driving down prices and increasing productivity, and increases direct foreign investment in the UK. Most critically, membership remains crucial for Britain as a major trading nation:

“If the UK was not in the EU it would be on its own in a world of powerful regional trading blocs suchas NAFTA, ASEAN or MERCOSUR…These large blocs would all have the advantages of large domestic markets in global trade negotiations, leaving the UK at a comparative disadvantage.”

2) Britain and the world beyond Europe

As the Economist pointed out, the niggling Euroscepticism of successive British governments has put us at a disadvantage  when it comes to economic interaction with the wider world.

Britain  is only the 22nd most popular destination for Chinese tourists, with a 0.5% share of the market. Germany, and many other European nations, comfortably outperform us in this respect, having previously joined the EU’s ‘borderless’ Schengen area in which non-EU citizens need only a single visa to travel.

Should they want to visit Britain, a second visa would be required. These consequences of cold-shouldering the opportunities offered by European integration are damaging enough: they suggest that Britain’s economic fortunes outside the EU altogether would be disastrous.

3) “The most successful peace process in history”

The European project of political and economic union was born in the aftermath of the Second World War. For well over half a century, the various evolutions of European community have maintained unprecedented peace and stability on the continent. We should not not take this happy situation, that is rooted in the EU for granted, as Labour MEP Richard Corbett argues here.

4) Europe is a guarantor of social rights

Most of the progressive legislation on working rights under the Conservatiove governments of Thatcher, Major and Cameron have come from Europe. By acting in concert, European countries avoid a ‘race to the bottom’ on workers’ rights. As Unite Assistant General-Secretary Tony Burke wrote on Left Foot Forward

There are workers – in and outside of trade unions who take for granted the pro-worker legislation emanating from the EU – as thought it has always been there. And there are those who misguidedly express anti Brussels sentiments without recognizing what they could lose.

So lets look at some of the key pieces of legislation, which have benefited working people here in the UK.

They may sound complex, but workers across the UK have received some form of protection by them:

• Individual employment conditions (91/533/EEC) established the employer’s obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the employment contract or employment relationship.

• Fixed term employment framework agreement provided for equal treatment for fixed term contract workers to prevent the abuse of workers subjected to successive fixed-term contracts.

• The part time workers framework agreement required that part-time workers’ employment conditions were not be less favourable than those of comparable full-time workers, with employers, required to take account of employees’ preferences and their requests to transfer from full-time to part-time employment or vice versa. This legislation helped thousands of low paid women workers who worked in part time jobs.

• And of course the temporary agency workers directive which aims to guarantee a minimum level of effective protection to temporary and agency workers. Although its transposition into UK law has been controversial, it does provide some protection from the gross exploitation agency workers have suffered over the years. I would suggest this was the ‘hire and fire’ Gove referred to.

• This was coupled with the health & safety in fixed term and temporary employment – an EU directive (91/383/EEC) which ensured that fixed-term and temporary agency workers, who are more exposed to the risk of accidents at work and occupational diseases than other workers, have the same level of safety and health protection at work as other employees.

• Young people at work is an EU Directive which provided the protection of young people at work which insists that EU member states must prohibit the employment of children (i.e. those under the age of 15 or still in full-time compulsory education). Remember the anti-EU rants about schoolkids and paper-rounds?

• Now a personal favourite  – the working time directive, a piece of key health & safety legislation, watered down by the Tories with an “opt-out” for individuals and a piece of legislation that New Labour kept at a distance fearful of the trashing they would get by the Mail and the Sun for being seen curtailing peoples right to work all the hours God sends no matter what the consequences are.

See also:

“We must all be up to this challenge together”: A new social compact for Europe 8 June 2012

Eurobonds are about solidarity, which is not Cameron’s strong point 8 June 2012

Austerity Isn’t Working • Sparpolitik ist keine Lösung • L’austérité ne marche pas 28 May 2012

Vive Hollande! M. Normal wins the day 8 May 2012

What’s the EU ever done for us? 12 November 2009

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34 Responses to “Four reasons Britain should stay in the EU”

  1. Political Planet

    Four reasons Britain should stay in the EU: As a Daily Express poll shows a large number of Britons in favour of…

  2. DJC

    Four reasons Britain should remain in the #EU, one of which is to stop the #Tories destroying our #WorkRights

  3. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Four reasons Britain should stay in the EU

  4. Michael

    Four reasons Britain should stay in the EU I Left Foot Forward – Warning: Photiograph of Osborne..

  5. Rory Meakin

    Four reasons Britain should leave the EU via @leftfootfwd

  6. Lord Blagger

    1. The trade argument.

    Like China and Switzerland are really disadvantaged by by not being in the EU. If they aren’t in the EU they must be in a dreadful economic straits.

    Complete red herring. Just join EUFTA.

    Remember, the EU exports more to the UK than we export to them. They need free trade with us more than vice versa.

    2. The visa argument.

    Make it easier for Chinese tourists to get visas. A pretty desperate attempt at coming up with an argument. The total income here is peanuts.

    3. The peace argument.

    So if we leave, who are we going to go to war with, or who is going to go to war with us? Unless you can point the finger at whom is going to start a war, its a non argument

    4. Social rights.

    It’s in UK law. So if we leave it doesn’t matter.

    Look at the down sides.

    1. Billions going to the unelected to spend.

    2. Billions on bailouts

    3. They can’t even pass an audit.

    4. CAP wastes billions

    5. We are net contributors. Financially we are better off out.

    6. The Euro is going to break things up. If we can isolate ourselves from the mess we are better off.

    7. Migration. Lots of migrants pay more than 11K a year in taxes which is the per head spending by the UK. Lots do not. We need the first not the second. The second group compete and win against the unemployed causing massive social ills and costs as a result. Free migration hasn’t been the panacea, its been gerrymandering.

  7. Anonymous

    Will the likes of Nissan, Toyota, Honda and any other foreign company based in the UK stay in the UK if it left the EU?

  8. Katie Stanton

    Four reasons Britain should stay in the EU

  9. Mark Staniland

    RT @leftfootfwd: Four reasons Britain should stay in the EU

  10. Barbara Sage

    RT @leftfootfwd: Four reasons Britain should stay in the EU

  11. Kevin Leonard

    excellent come back one more thing :- Our EU trade provides 3.5 million jobs. The only reason this figure is bandied about is because politicians made it up there is no proof whatsoever as to how many jobs are dependent on EU membership. There is also the fact that the EU is in recession why put all your eggs in one basket that is full of holes?

  12. Selohesra

    Very important to look carefully when people raise the trade with EU stats – if you are not careful you find our exports to Rest of World which are actually shipped via Rotterdam get included as EU trade

  13. Shamik Das

    Four reasons Britain should remain in the EU by @BenPhillips1989 #Europe

  14. Blarg1987

    I think there does need to be a structual reform of the EU overall, but we should be careful with a full blown pull out, considering most of our assetts are owned by the French and Germans i.e. power utilities etc they may decide to bring jobs to other Eu countries such as eastern europe which will make things worst here.

  15. Joe

    This is a good article – I think the point about influence is very important. There is a group that acts as a hub for a realistic and pro-european approach to British membership of the EU – Nucleus – – which are also making similar points.

  16. Anonymous

    1. The Swiss have agreements with the EU, and China is set for a MAJOR crash. Like Norway, we’d end up having to hand over control to Brussels for NO control in many areas. And pay for it.
    2. Easier? The governments has cracked down on Tourists from a number of nations, for example you never see South Africans on tourist visa’s anymore. It’s NOT peanuts, it’s hundreds of millions which have been lost already, and the situation is increasingly grim.
    3. I don’t know, who are you planning on invading? You’re the warmonger, the finger’s in your…
    4. The UK law which you constantly attack, you want to strip worker and human rights from everyone and the EU is a good roadblock. It “doesn’t matter” precisely because you know you’d get away with much of it otherwise. Rights for the 99% are evil in your eyes as ever.

    The downsides…
    1. You mean like the Unelected UK cabinet? Right.
    2. Mr. Corperate Welfare, you don’t have enough to lavish on your share prices.
    3. Neither can the Tories.
    4. So did the UK predecessor. And food prices would soar if we left the EU.
    5. Ignoring the benefits, sure.
    6. We CANNOT firewall by leaving the EU. Indeed, it would leave us more vulnerable, since we would have NO seat at a table rather than the partial one we have now.
    7. We don’t “need” UK citizens who pay less than 11k tax either, are you going to advocate murdering them again? Given there isn’t and never has been”free migration”, you’re simply being racist again.

  17. Anonymous

    5-6% of the total trade. And it would end overnight if we left the EU, it’s actually our most vulnerable portion of trade!

  18. Anonymous

    It’s a question which is hard to answer, but the very fact that tens of thousands of jobs could easily be lost overnight…hundreds of thousands in a longer timescale…taking that kind of risk in a recession is nuts.

  19. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Four reasons Britain should stay in the EU

  20. Matt Tysoe

    1) the EU prevents us doing alot of deals 2) It is not Eurosceptics that have done that – it is the fact Britain appears to blow hot and cold on the issue. If it was a definate out via referendum that would not happen. 3) The most successful peace process in history? Look around you look at what is about to happen. The biggest economic collapse since the 1930s 4) Social rights? Democracy not included in that one? The fact that one size fits all is a myth?

    Sorry but you left wingers need to get a grip on what you are actually saying. I know it is trendy for the urbanite metro lefties to support the EU but I think you need to take a step back and realise the project is going in completely the wrong direction.

    Britain is a small island, not mainland Europe. Islands need to fill niches, islands have to manage their land in their own way. We have to leave this awful union asap.

  21. Matt Tysoe

    Yes, because we would not have to rely on someone else to make deals for us. With control of our own destiny could have alot more here. But anyway out long term goal should be HOME GROWN companies.

  22. Kevin Leonard

    Why should we have to pay an extra tax to export goods to other countries? leaving the EU would reduce the cost of our goods to the rest of the world leading to more sales.

  23. Selohesra

    Are you suggesting the Dutch would bar our trade passing through them or RoW only trade with us because we are EU – (genuine question not flippant remark this time)

  24. Anonymous

    I’m saying that the entire reason that we get 95%+ of that particular trade right now is for tax reasons, absent that and with the inevitable additional charges and inspections involved in us not being an EU member and that aspect of the trade would go.

    Even if you can argue that other trade wouldn’t be impacted (very doubtful), the through-trade is exactly what we’d lose – it’s still a significant amount of work here, several ports would end up like the old coal towns.

    It’s not ideal that the situation’s like that in the first place, but right now is REALLY not a good time to be upsetting the apple cart.

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  26. Gerbil

    why should we part of a capitalist, pro imperialist neoliberalist club, (we can still be part of the EEA though like Norway iceland and Lichenstien we can decide on the positive aspects ourselves

  27. etonmess

    “Europe is a guarantor of social rights” – precisely why the Express, UKIP, Mail et al hate it. Has sod all to do with patriotism.

  28. Steve K

    Influence that will be watered down, and taken away as France and Germany will it. It’s a joke, a sham, sold to the gullible public here.

  29. Steve K

    Easily. They’re here for the tax breaks. Even then, free-trade is guaranteed by the WTO and UN which would levy sanctions and fines against the EU should they try cutting off their nose to spite their face and try obstructing our trade with mainland Europe.

    They’re a petty, self-serving, ineffectual bunch, desperately clinging onto whatever power they can grab in the hopes that it makes them LOOK as though they’re a needed bunch of Soviet-educated, corrupt, fraudulent and thieving scumbags.

  30. Matt2house

    I think the editor of this article may find that the commonwealth of nations has much more of a better peace process than compared to the EU. Plus the commonwealth promotes democracy rapidly (representative democracy that is) as well is human rights and promoting the opposition to racism.

    Not only that but the commonwealth had also built up the economies of first world countries (UK,Australia, New Zealand & Canada) as well third world countries. Also another thing to mention…is that the EU are united through the Euro currency where as the commonwealth of nations are united through the English language.

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  32. MasaiMana

    This is completely true – Britain would be lost without the EU. We would not be in the biggest economy of the world, and we would also not be in a place where there are the most people, if we were to leave. Europe not only helps us, but develops us as a country. And, therefore we should stay in order to keep trading with all of Europe.

  33. OldLb

    So China is an economic backwater that doesn’t trade with anyone in the EU. Not a member, so can’t trade.

    Ho hum, what a pathetic argument that’s so easy to show is wrong.

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