In or Out

In the midst of a European Debt Crisis, the British public find themselves faced with the question,  “Should Britain leave the European Union?” It is a question which has been fiercely debated since the crisis begun and, with a potential referendum occurring at the next general election, it is sure to be in the forefront of our minds over the coming years.

In last several years, there have been a significant increase in the number of Eurosceptics who believe Britain should leave the European Union. Along with factors such as maintaining British laws and principles, Eurosceptics claim Britain contributes more to the EU than it receives. Indeed, this is true because it was estimated that Britain, in total, paid in, approximately £228 billion since 1979 and has received only £143 billion in benefits. The difference of £85 billion could have been invested in education, healthcare or servicing national debt. It is evident that the EU is a ‘drain’ on the British economy. A huge amount of money given to the EU is allocated to bureaucracy and wasteful spending such as the Common Agricultural Policy. In 2006, 45% of EU spending went towards the CAP. This is almost half of EU spending allocated towards an industry that employs only 5% EU citizens and generates 1.6% GDP. In addition, those who want to exit Europe believe Britain’s trade with their European partners will not be affected. This is because the British imports plentiful amount of  goods from Europe; consequently any trade tariffs put up would affect them as well as the British. Furthermore, if a trade tariff was in place, this could help balance the Britain’s trade deficit and would encourage the Britain to trade with the rest of the world.

Whilst these economic reasons will be of huge significance to deciding whether Britain should leave the European Union, there have been an increasing number of people alarmed at the legislation being brought in by unelected European parliament members of whom have not even been approved by national parliament. Many believe Britain is losing its national identity and thus, to prevent this from happening, a referendum must take place.

There are those who believe Britain should remain in the EU. The European Union was created to bring peace to Europe after the devastation of the two world wars. By developing economic ties, the aims of the EU have been successful. They argue departing the EU would severely hurt the Britain seeing as 48% of all British exports go there. Being part of the EU give businesses access to 480 million people, and should Britain leave, the tariffs put in place could mean businesses going bust. It is estimated 3 million jobs would be lost as inward investment from foreign firms would decrease. This is because companies such as Toyota would no longer benefit from putting factories in the UK. This decrease in investment will not only increase unemployment in the Britain but also decrease overall aggregate demand, and with an ever ageing infrastructure in the Britain, that investment could be sorely missed. Many pro Europeans acknowledge that the EU is not perfect, however, they firmly believe Britain are better in than out.

Whilst a referendum is likely to be an ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’ option, there is an alternative. Many MPs believe Britain should negotiate their position in Europe just as Switzerland and Norway have done in recent years. This is an ideal scenario since Britain could benefit from free trade but not be subjected to European laws. However, the likelihood of countries such as Germany or France accepting this situation is unlikely. Nonetheless, it is one which is favourable and so, it is one which Britain should try to adopt.

Ultimately, at least in the short run, Britain should stay in the EU. Even though Britain do give more than take in, this donation is a fraction of Britain’s GDP. Whilst renegotiation our position is favourable, it is highly unlikely and thus, the risks of leaving the EU may be just too great for it to happen.

Contributed by Seb Dawes

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