Constantly hearing people talking about how UK should leave the European Union and not giving any reasons, has inspired this article.
- 1. Free trade – It stimulates cross-border competition, driving down prices and increasing productivity, and increases direct foreign investment in the UK. Most critically, membership remains crucial for Britain as a major trading nation:
“If the UK was not in the EU it would be on its own in a world of powerful regional trading blocs such as NAFTA, ASEAN or MERCOSUR…These large blocs would all have the advantages of large domestic markets in global trade negotiations, leaving the UK at a comparative disadvantage.”
How’s the EUs worldwide network of free trade agreements a drag anchor on British trade? Britain has not found it easy to penetrate emerging markets, and has been less effective in doing so than some of its continental counterparts. Britain will not suddenly find that their doors open to it just because Britain has left the EU. Much of the West is going through recession or low growth, which does not mean that the prosperity of the past and the potential for the future within the EU is an illusion. Instead, the illusion is to think that splendid isolation in a global world is actually a workable strategy.
As part of the single market, the EU has free trade between all its member states and you don’t have to worry about quotas or import taxes. As such, almost 50% of our exports go to the EU.
- 2. “The most successful peace process in history” – Those who disparage the EU tend to take its peace for granted, or say it has little to do with the EU. A supranational authority, with a culture of interchange of peoples and goods and values, is a surer guarantor of peace than any number of politicians assuring us that they have peaceful intentions. Institutional structures are better than passing political policies as a route to keeping the peace. The European project of political and economic union was born in the aftermath of the Second World War. For well over half a century, the various evolutions of European community have maintained unprecedented peace and stability on the continent. We should not take this happy situation that is rooted in the EU for granted.
- 3. The EU safeguards workers’ rights – This might just be the most important reason to stay in the EU. Four weeks paid holiday a year, the 48 hour working week, anti-discrimination law, guaranteed rights for agency workers, guaranteed worker consultation- all of these protections exist because of the EU.
- Individual employment conditions (91/533/EEC) established the employer’s obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the employment contract or employment relationship.
- Fixed term employment framework agreement provided for equal treatment for fixed term contract workers to prevent the abuse of workers subjected to successive fixed-term contracts.
- The part time workers framework agreement required that part-time workers’ employment conditions were not be less favorable than those of comparable full-time workers, with employers, required to take account of employees’ preferences and their requests to transfer from full-time to part-time employment or vice versa. This legislation helped thousands of low paid women workers who worked in part time jobs.
- And of course the temporary agency workers directive which aims to guarantee a minimum level of effective protection to temporary and agency workers. Although its application to UK law has been controversial, it does provide some protection from the gross exploitation agency workers have suffered over the years.
- This was coupled with the health & safety in fixed term and temporary employment – an EU directive (91/383/EEC) which ensured that fixed-term and temporary agency workers, who are more exposed to the risk of accidents at work and occupational diseases than other workers, have the same level of safety and health protection at work as other employees.
- Young people at work is an EU Directive which provided the protection of young people at work which insists that EU member states must prohibit the employment of children (i.e. those under the age of 15 or still in full-time compulsory education).
- The working time directive, a piece of key health & safety legislation, watered down by the Tories with an “opt-out” for individuals and a piece of legislation that New Labor kept at a distance fearful of the trashing they would get by the Mail and the Sun for being seen curtailing people’s right to work all the hours God sends no matter what the consequences are.