By Gael Sirello & Hristo Boshnakov
The heart of the UK is also European: let’s ensure it will not be broken by the 2017 Referendum.
By Gael Sirello (President of YEM Oxford) & Hristo Boshnakov (Vice-President of YEM Oxford)
The future of the UK is bound indisputably to the whole European Union. The heart of many British citizens pulses with European values, ideals and hopes. This is not a virtual statement; it is indeed the description of a fact grounded in reality. In this short paper, we argue why the UK should vote for remaining in the EU. We will do that taking into account both practical and theoretical, political and economic reasons.
First, the UK leaving the EU would become an irrelevant actor in world affairs. Indeed, it would be highly superficial to argue that the UK would benefit from a new independence from the European institutions in terms of geo-political power and influence. Recent developments in international affairs clearly show that the UK needs the EU to pursue its interests, in particular in North Africa. This argument applies equally while referring to migration. This issue cannot be tackled at a mere national level; it should require a regional and coordinate effort, as well as huge expenses that can be hardly overcome by a sole national government. In a globalizing and increasing interdependent world, joining efforts and strengths at a regional – arguably supranational – level is becoming a clear necessity. Leaving the EU would then clearly be an attempt to contradict the history of international relations since 1945.
Moreover, the UK leaving the EU would no longer have a say in its neighbour’s policies. The EU is close to the UK not solely for political and economic reasons but, clearly, its geographical position. Undermining the contract that ties the UK to the rest of the Continent would then mean its difficulty in influencing European decisions that may be highly relevant to it. Without necessarily thinking about environmental issues, many European decisions, on maritime activities or border control to name a few, would have an impact on UK national decisions.
Besides, the UK leaving the EU would probably trigger Scottish independence. We all know the adhesion of Scotland to the European Union. And we all know how this relevant issue is taken into account by the national government. The UK voting for Brexit would indisputably have an influence on Scotland future in the UK.
Furthermore, the UK leaving the EU would reject its own identity and history. British, Welsh, Scots and the people of Northern Ireland all know how much Europe constitutes UK’s past and identity. Together, leaders and values have been shared. This past will not be deleted by a referendum. But rejecting Europe will mean inexorably to reject the identity that the UK has contributed to create on the battlefields twice in a Century.
Being part of the European Union yields enormous economic benefits for the United Kingdom. By simply being a member state UK is part of the largest single market in the world, even bigger than that of the US and Japan combined, with a GDP worth nearly £11 trillion. More than 500 million citizens are part of this market, which allows British business to expand and find new consumers on a level playing field. Additionally, due to the common market, British firms can enjoy the benefits of a free trade with universal sets of rules, avoiding tariffs and customs and 27 different sets of regulations.
Furthermore, EU is the largest trading partner of Britain and the exported goods towards Europe amount to nearly £159 billion or 53 % of all the exports. Nearly 39 % of all services are exported to the EU and their worth is of nearly £ 75 billion. On the other hand countries like Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) amount only to 7.24 % of current account earning of UK. Even the other Anglophone countries like US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand account only for nearly £ 153 billion of UK’s current earnings, which is less than half that of the European Union’s £ 312 billion. Also, the Business Department of UK estimates that the trade with the EU is responsible for a 6 % rise in income per head in Britain since the 1980s. Consequently, nearly 3.5 million jobs in UK are dependent, directly or indirectly, on the commercial ties with EU member states.
Finally, British business and economy benefits significantly from the EU policies for freedom of movement and capital. The UK receives a considerable amount of foreign investment from companies wanting to produce in Britain and export for the common European market, for example the Nissan factory in Sunderland. In addition, the British economy has grown considerably due to migrant workers from the other member sates who contribute significantly to the growth and fulfil gaps in the British labour market. Also, the Community trade mark and the registration of industrial designs are two essential parts of the EU law which facilitated the British business regarding protecting their intellectual property and overcoming bureaucratic obstacles to enterprises. Lastly, the lower telecom costs and the regulation on energy prices and competition provided by the EU benefit tremendously businesses and ordinary citizens alike and thus contribute to economic growth of Britain as well.