EU: What sort of country do we wish to be?
Remaining in EU is about more than the economic argument it is about was sort of country do we wish to be. I believe passionately that the world is a better place when people work together for mutual benefit and not just self-interest. The question is how best to achieve this in the complex and interconnected world that we have today? There are various examples around the world of countries coming together in some form of association with their neighbours to help improve trade and relations between them, but I find no better example of where this is done than in the European Union.
In the EU, countries that for centuries have fought against each other have decided rather than put each other down for self-interest they give each other a leg up. Countries work as a team to solve issues of common interest. In the EU there is a democratic framework to resolve issues, which both respects the rights of small countries and still gives appropriate weight the vote of larger countries.
This cooperation has led to the longest period of peace the continent has known and highest living standards the people in Europe have known too. The UK has gone from the sick man of Europe in the earlier seventies, requiring a bailout from the IMF to the 5th largest economy in the world, this is in no small part to our membership of the world's largest single market in the EU. This membership also gives us free trade with more than 50 countries around the world. That's at least 30 more than the USA. So our membership helps us trade within Europe and around world.
Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) encourage trade in goods but not services, capital or labour. Many tariffs and restrictions remain. The EU has negotiated more FTAs than anyone else and they include more goods and services. The EU has the best of both worlds. It is the world's largest economy and has the most FTAs. If we leave we will have to start again.
More trade means more jobs, more money for public services and improved standard of living for us all.
Now I am not pretending that all is wonderful in the EU garden, like all household gardens it needs maintaining and updating to keep everything in good order. However, if we wish to improve things for everyone we need to remain in the EU.
To have a flexible economy that is able to respond to economic demands a country needs people to be flexible and travel where the work is. Currently that need is in the UK with our record high employment levels and low unemployment levels, in the 1980's as the TV series Auf Wiedersehen Pet highlighted, it was Germany. One great benefit of the EU model is economies can quickly adapt to economic demands because of the free movement of people around the EU area.
Now membership of any club costs money and the EU is no different, unlike most clubs this one has effectively has a variable membership fee, the richer countries pay more in than the poor ones. The money is used to run the club and help give the poorer countries a leg up. The cost to the UK at present about 0.6% of government expenditure and the effect of every pound spend in giving a leg up is to increase trade by ten pounds, that's a pretty good deal.
The real question is - what type of country do we wish to be on Thursday 23rd June, I choose:-
- A country that works with our neighbours to solve issues
- A country that helps those European neighbours that require extra support
- A country that wants to give every person to right to work and live anywhere in Europe they wish too
- A country that wants to give the chance everyone to retire anywhere in Europe they wish too
- A country that sees our sees fellow our Europeans as friends to like and not foreigners to fear
- A country that wants to be an the heart of the European project driving things forward
- A country that tolerant respecting and celebrating diversity
- A country that respects human rights defined the European Convention on Human Rights
- A country that respects the rights of refugees defined in the 1951 UN Convention
- A country that wants to create a level playing field for industry to thrive on
- A country that wants high environmental standards
- A country that wants high employments rights
- A country that wants to help its people achieve a good work life balance
- A country that cares for its people and just wishes to make lives better
The only way to try and do all these things is vote to remain part of the world's greatest exercise in international cooperation and remain in the EU.