I was always a dreamer back in school. I dreamt that European integration would one day go so far as to create a blissful paradise known the world over as ‘The United States of Europe’.
The international prejudices existing throughout Europe since the Dark Ages would be all but a distant memory in this magical place. There would be one currency, one free market, no passport or immigration control, and every state would have its own brilliantly unique character, but would be utterly unified with every other. Bruce Springsteen would reignite his career with songs about the U.S.E. and it would become the biggest, strongest, most influential, most culturally diverse and above all most peaceful country on Earth.
The EU is not out to damage the unique heritage or the cultural richness of the UK. Nor will it drag the UK into an economic sinking ship. Conceptually it represents a degree of political harmony that promotes co-operation between different cultures on a human level. For the UK to leave it would undermine all that is humanist and tolerant about our brilliant nation.
Many people argue that leaving the EU would be a terrible economic move.
Life isn’t all about money. To appear to throw our toys out of the pram, is both cowardly and selfish. We stand to gain much more with unity than with isolation and with allies than with rivals.
Robin James Kerrison
I quite enjoy holidaying to France, Germany, Italy or Spain without the excessive red tape that so restricts international travel outside the European Union. Furthermore, the free movement of goods between the UK and the Eurozone gives traders so much more scope to make a living from specialist goods. Wines, whiskies, beers and ciders all profit massively from the continental trades, as do a whole consortium of further foodstuffs. In addition to trade, the EU makes immigration — what should surely be a fundamental freedom — so accessible between member states. Brits frequently retire to the south of France with as little fuss as they’d meet in retiring to Cornwall.
Students, too, can profit from this ease-of-access. Two years ago, the Erasmus scheme saw 12,833 British students explore a bit more of the continent, as well as bringing 24,474 Europeans to our humble island, including over 6000 Francophones. These are the numbers before we even consider how many EU nationals study in UK universities for the length of their courses. With the UK no longer a member state of the EU, could we really guarantee such rich multiculturism on our campuses? I, for one, appreciate the opportunity to practice my French with so many native speakers.
The question of whether the UK should remain in the European Union has become an absolute minefield since the near crash of the Euro earlier this year. There now appear to be equally as many disadvantages now as advantages; perhaps even more.
When the UK first joined the EU there were many benefits; the free movement of workers and trade, and of course the idea that the countries in the EU would support one another in the event of crisis. However, David Cameron removed this ideological dream of support when he refused to bail out countries with failing economies such as Spain and Greece, due to the UK’s own struggling economy.
Although the UK made the correct decision by not changing its currency to the Euro, many would argue that in fact, by not fully integrating itself in the EU’s activities and policies, the UK may as well not be in it at all.
Yet despite the recent problems within the EU, it is clear that it is still a necessary component in ensuring the best interests of the British public – the EU acts as a negotiator internationally, and 27 individual countries would not have as much influence as they now do collectively.
As the members of the EU must be economically and politically cooperative, war between its members is easily out of the question. The EU is required not only for obvious trade benefits, but to simply act as a guarantor of safety for all of its members.
To be in favour of the European Union is not the same as simply advocating the preservation of the status quo in Europe.
The current debate on British membership of the EU is too often presented as a false dichotomy: we either continue on as we have been or completely isolate ourselves from Europe with a view to leaving the union.
Defining the debate in such terms has meant that any attempt at a balanced argument is drowned out. Membership of the EU has brought the UK many benefits, least of all economic ones through the creation of a European trade bloc. Its political aims towards peace across the continent are also to be commended (though the timing of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU is poor judgement).
Yet, over the years, the EU has become a bloated, opaque bureaucracy which is clearly damaging the opinion of it held by citizens across Europe. Reform is greatly needed to help reduce the democratic deficit within the EU, as opposed to continuing this trend for an ever-expanding collection of technocrats.
While the EU has achieved and can continue to achieve many great things, its refusal to change may prove its downfall.
No country is an island. The UK enjoys a privileged place in the EU: distanced enough so as not to bear the full brunt of the Eurozone crisis while retaining enough influence over EU policy to further its interests.
To suggest we would be better off without it is self-aggrandising arrogance and a throwback to a time when the UK was a true economic superpower. Today the UK simply does not have the same global significance. When combined with the other members of the EU, however, the UK can compete on more level terms with the larger economic powers and retain the economic clout it has historically enjoyed.
Leaving the EU would leave us with no say on the laws which govern business with our largest trading partner, Europe.
At the cost of a slight loss of sovereignty (and with all the opt-outs and caveats the UK has negotiated, it really is slight), the UK currently exerts an influence on EU policy allowing it to shape the rules in a way that benefits us most.
It is in our interest, then, to retain this influence. The EU is a work in progress and recent years have not been the best advertisement for it. But with our continued involvement we are not only supporting our largest trade partners, we are directly furthering the interests of UK.
Judging by recent Eurosceptic political clamour, Briton’s desire withdrawal from the EU.
These hasty conclusions have spread like political wildfire, fanned by the unlikeliest of alliances between the Daily Mail, Ed Miliband and Conservative backbenchers in response to squabbles over prisoner voting rights and the latest EU budget negotiations. Whatever the political expedience of being seen to take a hardline on Europe, demonising of our neighbours, geopolitical allies and single largest trading partner is as damaging as it is misguided.
The political and economic integration of EU member states brings a guarantee of peace to a continent scarred by memories of war. For younger generations, peace in Europe is an immutable fact; our complacency is rightfully exposed in the week of Remembrance Day. The rise of China and India coupled with our stagnating domestic economy makes EU membership a vital platform for maintaining Britain’s voice in international affairs. These new markets may be tomorrow’s trading partners but let’s not forget that over half of British trade remains with the EU.
However, behind the caricature of Brussels-based ‘eurocrats’ issuing diktats from private jets (in a manner reminiscent of a Bond villain) lies a reality of financial excess. This should be curbed, and the freeze in EU spending proposed by the Coalition government would help. But talk of Britain abandoning its EU membership is groundless, diplomatically harmful and has no place in national political debate.