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City Biz

Europe – better in or better out?

Loughborough Church New Springs - Europe - better in or better out?In or Out, now that is the question? With the referendum looming on whether Britain should remain in the European Union or not – Britain is going to have to decide one way or the other on June 23rd. The politicians and some celebrities have all nailed their colours to the mast. Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron, George Osborne, Nicky Morgan, Nicola Sturgeon, Sir Richard Branston, Emma Thomson and of course David Cameron are firmly in the remain camp, whilst Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, Sir Michael Caine, Joan Collins and of course Nigel Farage can’t get out of there quick enough. Whilst the media are concentrating on personality, celebrity and rhetoric – the truth of the matter is – the majority of ordinary folk just don’t feel they are being adequately informed with the critical arguments either way so they make an informed and intelligent decision. However, fear not, our very own Senior Pastor and now makeshift intrepid political correspondent has spent some time researching what both sides of the arguments are contending. So over the next three issues of the City Biz he will be presenting some of the key points on both sides – of course in a totally British unbiased way!

You never know it just might help you to decide how to vote if you are one of the un-sures!

However, first – a few EU facts

FACT No 1.     There are currently 751 Elected MEPs (Members of the European Parliament)

FACT NO 2.    The standard monthly salary for each MEP is 7,957 Euros (£6,537) That equates to £78,444 a year plus expenses. This salary is roughly on a par with a British MP’s salary, but of course when the pound is weak, MEPs earn more than MPs.

FACT NO 3.    Sometimes you hear the word ‘Brexit’ being bannered around – but what is meant by it. The word ‘Brexit’ is an abbreviation of “British exit”. It refers to the possibility of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

FACT NO 4.   The European Parliament has three places of work – Brussels (Belgium), the city of Luxembourg (Luxembourg) and Strasbourg (France). Luxembourg is home to the administrative offices (the ‘General Secretariat’). Meetings of the whole Parliament (‘plenary sessions’) take place in Strasbourg and in Brussels.

FACT NO 5.  The EU has 23 official languages and all European Parliament debating sessions are interpreted into all of them. The European Parliament, along with the European Commission, is the world’s largest employer of interpreters and translators. About one third of the European Parliament staff – 1,500 people – work on translating documents and interpreting speakers in debates and meetings. Number crunchers will realise that this means a total of 506 possible language interpretation combinations.

KEY QUESTION:  Are there any viable options for Britain leaving the EU?

The ‘better off out’ camp says…

Yes there are! Britain could negotiate an “amicable divorce” from the European Union, but at the same time retain strong trading links with EU nations.

The argument is countries such as Norway and Switzerland have thrived outside the EU. Both countries have access to the single trade market but are not bound by EU laws on agriculture, fisheries, justice and home affairs.

Some favour the Swiss model, based on bi-lateral (two way) treaties with the EU rather than membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), basically it amounts to a sort of “EU-lite”.

Others say the EEA/Norway model would be easier as the UK is already a member of the free trade area.

Some argue for a clean break from the EU, with the UK free to make trade deals with nations across the world.

The ‘better off in’ camp says…

No not at all! An “amicable divorce” is a pipe dream.

France, Germany and the other leading EU nations would never allow Britain a “pick and mix” approach to the block’s rules.

They argue Norway and Switzerland have to abide by many EU rules anyway yet without any influence at all over how they are formed.

If we weren’t in there helping to write the rules they would be written without us – and we simply wouldn’t like the outcome.

The ‘remain’ camp also contend that if Britain went for a clean break from the EU, its exports would be subject to EU export tariffs and yet we would still have to meet EU production standards.

KEY QUESTION: What would the impact on British jobs be?

The ‘better off out’ camp says…

With small and medium-sized firms freed from EU regulation, there could be a jobs boom. The Eurosceptic Think Tank claims pulling out of the EU but staying in the EEA could create as many as 1,000,000 British jobs.

Those who want to leave the EU argue that more than 90% of the UK economy is not involved in trade with the EU in any way, yet still bears the burden of all the EU employment rules and regulations and red tape.

The ‘better off in’ camp says…

They believe millions of jobs could be lost as global manufacturers move to using lower-cost EU countries to supply their needs. For example, they say it’s very possible that Britain’s large foreign-owned car industry would shift into the EU and away from the UK. They believe other key industries linked to EU membership such as aerospace would also suffer greatly as a result of us leaving the EU. Pro-EU commentators claim Airbus production could move to France and Germany.

KEY QUESTION: Would Britons need visas to visit EU countries?

The ‘better off out’ camp says…

Probably not. UK citizens do not need a visa for many non-EU states and the EU has visa-free travel with many countries.

The ‘better off in’ camp says…

This is a relatively minor issue.  They say the real issue revolves around the right of UK citizens to work and live in EU member states, which will be restricted.

KEY QUESTION: Will Britain save money?

For Your Information:  The UK paid £8.9billion from UK taxes into the EU budget in 2010/11, according to the UK Treasury. This is out of a total of £706billion in public spending. That’s slightly higher than the Government spends on railways and similar to the total cost of unemployment benefits. However European Commission puts the UK’s contribution at £5.85billion.

The ‘better off out’ camp says…

Yes indeed! They argue, to begin with it would save the UK billions of pounds in EU membership fees that we are currently paying.  They argue this amounts to over £50 million every single day. It is contended that coming out of the EU would also end the so called “hidden tariff” paid by British taxpayers when goods are exported to the EU, caused by red tape, waste, fraud and various other factors. The ‘leave camp’ actually claims that the total cost to the UK of our EU membership, when all these factors are taken into consideration, is more like 60 billion quid a year.

The ‘better off in’ camp says…

No not at all. They argue the UK’s contribution to the EU budget is a drop in the ocean compared with the benefits to business in being a member of the Single European Market. Furthermore they contend it could be costly for UK exporters if they face EU legal arguments against UK standards – and they believe as a result there would be a lot more costly court cases entered into.

The ‘in camp’ also say the UK could lose significant tax revenue if companies dealing with the Eurozone, especially the banks, move from the City to the EU as a result of us coming out of the European Union.

KEY QUESTION: How much legislation comes from the EU that affects Britain?

The ‘better off out’ camp says…

The Eurosceptics say as much as 75% of all legislation affecting the UK is made by EU legislators.

The ‘better off in’ camp says…

Europhiles argue that according to House of Commons statistics, only 9% of our laws come from Brussels.

So there we have it for this month, what the “fors” and “againsts” are saying on some of the key issues concerning the EU. Hopefully it will get you thinking.  More next month – Yippie! Go on admit it, you know you can’t wait!