The former Dragon Theo Paphitis appeared on Question Time this week and said what the entire nation has been thinking regarding the EU referendum: “What are the facts?” We’re not told clearly enough by either side of the debate how it would affect us to leave the EU. Both sides have used fear tactics and countered the opposing ‘facts’. So nobody knows who or what to believe.
David Cameron is currently in Brussels working out a reform package in order to persuade Eurosceptics to remain within the EU. He’s hoping to change the law on migrants claiming benefits and make sure Britain can opt out of the ‘ever closer union’.
This will be my most unbiased post that I have ever written. I’m going to stay completely neutral as I give you the facts for the upcoming EU referendum which might be in June but will definitely be before 2017.
- Over three million jobs are linked to the EU. Meaning, companies within the EU have workers in Britain or companies within Britain have workers who's job it is to deal with companies within the EU.
- Almost half of Britain’s exports are to the EU which is worth £200 billion.
- Per household Britain contributes £340 on average and receives £3,000 per household back.
- Remaining means lower phone charges when using your mobile abroad and cheaper flights.
- Investment from the EU in the UK was £66 million on average over the last ten years.
- Free movement of people - Your European passport means you don’t need a visa. The Schengen Area also means you don't need a passport once on the continent.
- The original purpose of the EU before it became EEC and the political union it is today was a way of stopping European warfare.
- The EU is an advocate of human rights and is responsible for many that keep you free today.
- The EU funds many science projects within Britain. Overall, British academics win 18.7 per cent of all European grants for science.
- European laws mean Britain must lower its high emission power plants, reduce household waste by 50 per cent and industries must test and register the chemicals they use. The EU is working to tackle climate change and impose these laws on countries.
- Four weeks’ minimum paid annual leave, fourteen weeks’ minimum maternity leave, four further months of childcare, equal treatment for agency workers and, limits on working hours. All are EU laws.
- British farmers receive subsidies from the EU, production standards must be kept and EU farmers are protected by high tariffs from outside the area.
- A political union with 27 other countries to combat terrorism, help refugees and give aid to the poor.
- We give £135 million to Brussels every week after our rebate - that's around £8b every year.
- Stricter migration laws - currently over 250,000 migrants come from the EU every year.
- 64 per cent of our laws are made in Brussels.
- Britain would be allowed to trade with China, Brazil, India and the rest of the world.
- Britain would retake a seat at the World Trade Organisation.
- The UK has attempted to block the EU council 72 times but has failed every time.
- Leaving wouldn't mean cutting off economic ties with the EU. We can still trade with them and the 3 million jobs would be safe. A loss of those jobs would also hurt the EU.
- Britain wouldn't need to join the EEA to trade either. (Countries such as Norway pay a fee to trade and have all of the EU laws but have no say in anything.)
- EU laws mean British fishermen are restricted to the number of fish they can catch and tones of dead fish are being thrown back into the ocean because of this.
- Britain is in NATO and the UN. Both are more powerful than the EU and have more say on international affairs, human rights and climate change. We can decide our own budget for overseas aid, we’re still in the Five Eyes pact and can mirror global climate change efforts.
- The EU’s market is in decline. (The only major market in the world that is so)
- The UK could still take part in the European research program if we left.
- Britain could stop paying subsidies to EU farmers and direct all of the money to British farmers.
These are the facts. Make your own mind up. Both have sound arguments and neither will persuade everyone. Some may want to stay for economic reasons. Some may want to leave for sovereignty and democracy. Others might want stricter immigration. But I will say one more thing: economically we can’t be sure what will happen. If we stay and the EU continues to decline, we are tied to it like a sinking ship. If we leave, we may lose jobs because of it and our economy could decline. The economics are the only grey area. Nobody knows for sure how it will play out.
I recommend reading David Charter’s ‘Europe: In or Out?’ if you would like to know more.