If there was a referendum on Europe....

(190 Posts)
CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 15-Jan-13 08:31:42

... which seems to be the hot topic... how do you think it would go?

Orwellian Wed 23-Jan-13 10:58:27

Silly, silly people. Do you really think there is going to be a referendum. Of course not. Cameron has moved the goal posts once more (remember his "cast iron guarantee" before he was elected?). He will not be in power in 2017 anyway and by that time innumerable damage will have been done to the UK. None of the parties want to leave the EU and they are damn well not going to let the annoying little plebs voters have a say, as they know best what is right for themselves the country. The Tories and Labour have merged into a Europhilian beast.

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 11:13:23

I'm not scaremongering Larry. Just trying to point out that we have a lot to potentially lose and not enough people recognise that.

And also that our strategy is flawed.

Labour created a lot of red tape all by themselves. And we would need to keep most EU laws anyway. I think you are overstating the benefits of reduced red tape.

The biggest benefit I can see in removing ourselves from the EU core is to get control back of our borders. But at great cost and risk to business.

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 11:21:44

I just wanted to chip in on two things here - the first is someone upthread asked what industries would be affected by a withdrawal from the EU.

I'm a lawyer advising on corporate, environmental and product regulation laws. These things are harmonised across the EU because most regulation is only of any use if neighboring countries align their requirements together. It's no good cracking down on air emissions here if you can move just across the border and emit huge amounts of nasties into the air that drift across, or waste if you can just truck across the border and dump shit into the river that goes back into your country. We in the UK are actually leaders in trying to pressure other countries to tighten most types of regulations - if we left we would be subject to whatever our neighbours decided to do, and merely being an island will not insulate us from that.

In addition I spend a lot of my time advising companies from non-EU jurisdictions, including countries like Norway, how they can comply with EU laws, which they have absolutely no control over but have to comply with anyway if they want access to the market. As you can imagine this costs them a huge amount of money and they have no say in the content of those regulations but have to follow them anyway if they want access to the market. Again the UK currently takes a leadership role in drawing up these regulations but if we withdrew from the EU we would be subject to all the regulations but would have no say in their reasonableness, scope and effect on our own industries. As the vast majority of our trade is with the EU and many multinationals manage their regulatory compliance work in the UK, leaving the EU would be a hammer blow as we would continue to have to comply but would have absolutely no influence over what our regulatory obligations are. This will massively increase costs for UK businesses, UK-based importers and and drive multinationals elsewhere.

Finally, I would note that having lived in the UK since 1999 as a non-EU citizen and then becoming a British citizen, it has massively increased my personal options and flexibility in terms of jobs. I was offered a secondment to Frankfurt last year - had to turn it down because of my visa. When I was thinking about taking a sabbatical I couldn't stay out of the country for more than 90 days or I would lose my visa. I wouldn't have been able to retire to France, spend more than a certain number of days in any EU country, and certainly I have not been eligible to claim any benefits except the NHS for which I pay at the highest tax rate (and would be willing to pay more, it's FAB). The equivalent would be the position for any UK citizen living and working in an EU country if we withdrew from the EU.

Whatever the result of a referendum and whatever your opinion of spending plans in Brussels, as far as I am concerned as a lawyer working in this area, the UK has been part of the EU for too long and does far too much trade with other EU member states to disentangle itself. The practical result would be that whether or not on paper we are part of the EU, our companies would have to continue to comply with EU regulation in all these areas but our government would lose any ability to influence or control the future development of these regulations. End result would be loss of influence but with no loss of regulatory compliance burden and therefore massively increased uncertainty and costs for businesses.

Chislemum Wed 23-Jan-13 11:23:43

Foolish to leave. Madness.

monica77798 Wed 23-Jan-13 11:34:13

We should pull out and I think most people would vote that way. Nobody in this country agreed to be in the EU (not even in the 1970s, that referendum was for something completely different, not the current EU). We put far more into the EU than we get out, and far from guaranteeing jobs in the UK the EU actually undermines employment and allows companies to legally evade UK tax while making lots of money out of the public.

But most importantly we should pull out because of the attitudes and beliefs of the people running the EU. Our politicians are doing everything in their power to refuse the UK public in having any say in this (Cameron promises a referendum for 2017 when he knows he will no longer be in power). Look at what happened in Ireland. They had a referendum and the public voted no. So they just had another referendum, and would have kept doing so until they got the answer they wanted. Our politicians refuse to have any debate on this because they know if they keep the UK in the EU then they will have a cushy well paid (and unelected) job in the EU at the end of it. Tony Blair is already trying to make himself Supreme Euro-Overlord.

The EU has always been about political union, don't believe otherwise. That is their long term objective. They simply do not care whether you are for or against it - your opinions do not matter. These are the same people who say we are entering the "post-democratic era". Even if you are in favour of a united Europe, you need to have serious concerns about the people pushing us towards it.

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 11:34:50

Exactly Xiaoxiong.

Those who are saying we should leave because freed of EU regulations we'd be more competitive are living in a fantasy world.

We'd still have to produce goods/services to EU standards and as we've mentioned if we stay in the EU single market but not in the inner circle we cannot influence the rules we must then meet. Crazy

If we left altogether we'd have to negotiate bilateral trade agreements anyway and how can they be better than the terms we have now when we're in the club and have FREE trade rights!?!?!

Sure we pay a few billion each year as membership dues to be in the EU but in terms of overall government spending and more importantly in terms of overall trade it's a mere drop in the ocean.

What about big manufacturers such as Nissan or Honda? They set up in the UK so they can sell cars in Europe to avoid import duties. If we're not part of Europe they'll probably move their production to Poland or another low cost EU country.

The potential impact is simply MASSIVE and the case for leaving is based all on assumptions and little hard facts.

turkeyboots Wed 23-Jan-13 11:51:52

For everyone talking about Ireland voting no on Lisbon - that was due to pro-life fears that Lisbon would require abortion to be legal when the mother's life was a risk. Ireland also has endless referendums so there is huge appathy towards them from most if the population.

While wrong to ignore it, it was more wrong that Lisbon was not explained by the Government first time round - which is excatly what I fear would happen in the UK.

somebloke123 Wed 23-Jan-13 12:03:00

On the issue of red tape and complex regulations. This is actually beneficial to big business because it gives them a comparative advantage over small businesses, as they can afford to have massive legal and compliance departments, and also have big enough workforces to be able to ride out stuff like maternity leave, working hours regs etc etc.

In fact though this business of having to obey EU regulations even if we're out is a bit misleading. As the article below explains, most "EU" regulations are really passed down from other international bodies, on which the UK is only represented through the EU, whereas as country such as Norway is represented in its own right.

www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/9813101/Norways-fax-democracy-is-nothing-for-Britain-to-fear.html

So there is a sense in which Norway has even more say in "EU" regulations.

Since the EU has legal primacy over the laws of the UK, we have to obey all the regulations. Norway however, as a sovereign country, can reject them if they are not in their national interest.

amyboo Wed 23-Jan-13 12:14:23

monica - Reagarding employment prospects for UK politicians in the EU, you say "UK in the EU then they will have a cushy well paid (and unelected) job in the EU at the end of it". There are very few unelected Eu jobs, especially ones that would be given to former UK prime ministers! The only unelected high level EU post that is currently held by a UK citizen is Commissioner Ashton's post.

Regarding the comment that "We put far more into the EU than we get out" - the UK is only the 6th biggest net contributor, and much of the money that we contribute goes into programmes that directly benefit the UK: blogs.ec.europa.eu/ECintheUK/the-uk-and-the-eu-budget-the-facts/ Membership only costs each taxpayer around €115 per year, which is less than £100!

You also say that the EU "allows companies to legally evade UK tax while making lots of money out of the public". This is simply not true. Companies are able to evade UK tax because the UK lets them. The EU is actually trying to create a common corporate tax base precisely to stop companies being able to shop around and evade taxation. And one of the big tax havens for UK companies is part of the UK - the Channel Islands....

turkeyboots Wed 23-Jan-13 12:26:07

SomeBloke if you want to trade with the EU in anything controlled - like food - the third country generally has to meet EU rules for production otherwise its not allowed in.

But I agree that if the UK pulled out, UK Gov will drop all sorts of EU derived legislation. So even if there are bi-laterial treatied like Norway's and Switzerland, UK Gov may well either drop out of the regulatory monirting approval etc needed to meet them, or start charging it at cost. Which will make it harder for businesses.

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 12:34:35

somebloke - I'm sorry, but you're wrong, at least in relation to my patch of environmental and product regulation.

What that column you linked says is that a recent EFTA report found that 90 percent of the laws of the single market are in policy areas also covered by the UN or other international bodies. This does not mean they are "really passed down from" other international bodies.

I have tried to find that EFTA report and have failed to do so - I only find other columns and something from an anti-EU website. But even taking this at face value, yeah sure they may be in the same "policy area". But UN conventions usually don't have legally binding force in the same way as EU regulations.

Take one of my areas of legal expertise - product regulations. This is a "policy area" heavily covered by the UN, WTO and other international bodies. But it's at the EU level that regulations actually have binding force if you want to sell products in the EU, and that's the level at which the UK currently has an enormous amount of policy influence.

I can't think of a single regulation I work with daily that is "really passed down from" an international body. In fact, often when international bodies draw up conventions (a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases springs to mind) they use EU legislation (the EU ETS Directive and others) as a basis. It's often the policy work done at the EU level that is used to drive international negotiations, certainly in the areas of environmental and trade.

Your blanket statement about EU laws having "legal primacy" over the laws of the UK. Some EU legislation - like regulations - do have direct effect in the UK. This means they set a minimum standard that must be followed. In most cases, the UK in fact has more stringent regulations already in force. Regulations tend to be about standards that must be met to sell products in the EU - for instance, the percentage of allowable lead in a piece of electronic equipment in order for it to be legal to sell to consumers. This is set at the EU level - there is no international law regulating lead levels. The vast majority of significant EU legislation is passed as directives which do not have direct effect in the UK or any member state but are voted on and amended by MEPs. They have to be transposed as member states see fit - so there are certain allowable derogations, often fought for by MEPs and Commission representatives from countries with particular interests, and countries can implement the minimum standards or increase them, as the UK often does. In addition their enforcement is decided on a country by country basis.

BadMissM Wed 23-Jan-13 12:35:48

Definitely in. For social reasons, movement, trade, and a million other things. But also, if Cameron carries on the way he is riding rough-shod over the vulnerable, and selling off the country piece-meal to his friends, for the European Court of Human Rights...we're going to need it. That's why he wants to come out, to remove the only recourse for people who are finding it increasingly difficult and impossibly expensive to achieve justice in the British Legal System....

throckenholt Wed 23-Jan-13 12:43:31

I hope it would be stay in (and be proactive) but fear it would be very xenophobic and end up leaving. I think it is a bad idea to have a referendum - most people would be voting on something they know very little about - just the years of negative hype.

Dromedary Wed 23-Jan-13 12:44:28

Definitely in.
NiceGuy is talking a lot of sense - this country will now get into more economic trouble due simply to the threat of leaving.
Once this country is out of the EU look forward to ALL employment rights disappearing - the Government is far from being a fan of discrimination law, minimum holiday rights, etc.

throckenholt Wed 23-Jan-13 12:46:29

Meant to say - whilst there probably is wasted money (surely that is the same in the UK as well ?!), I think the bigger picture is more important. I think that EU cooperation is the biggest single reason there has been no major conflict in Europe since the 1940s. Countries are willingly trying to work together, and talking together. If you are doing that you are less likely to start invading or shooting at each other.

JourneyThroughLife Wed 23-Jan-13 12:58:11

I would vote to leave the EU. I wish we were more like Norway, who do not belong....but they are part of the Trade agreements so can trade. And they have such a high standard of living there must be something in it....

thorleyart Wed 23-Jan-13 13:12:15

The British public has NEVER been asked if we want to BE IN the EU, never mind being asked if we want to leave. Cameron, like all politicians is a liar, he promised to give us a referendum before he was elected, it's just hot air, he's playing a game, we will not be given an opportunity to decide if we want to leave the EU or not.

If we lived in a true democracy we would be asked NOW, not in 2, 3, 4 or however many years time.

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 13:12:28

Yeah......except Norway have actually warned us that all that glitters is not gold!

Norwegian minister warning

As he rightly says "We are not at the table when decisions are made" and that they have "limited scope for influence". Whereas right now we're one of the key players.

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Wed 23-Jan-13 13:24:47

I'd vote to stay in. Yes, there are problems with the EU, but the mature way to deal with that is to work to change them from the inside, not to have a hissy fit and flounce off. I also feel the advantages of membership (trade, free movement, a sense of community amongst people who were shooting at each other 70 years ago) far outweigh the disadvantages.

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 13:27:14

"Those who are saying we should leave because freed of EU regulations we'd be more competitive are living in a fantasy world."

Statement with zero to back it up. Why is that obviously true? Of course, we would have to produce goods to EU standards. But so does anyone who exports to the EU including China, Japan, U.S etc. It does not mean they have to have the same labour laws. America operates far more on a willing employer/willing employee basis so companies can downsize far quicker in recessions and therefore survive and subsequently prosper and employ more people.

"If we left altogether we'd have to negotiate bilateral trade agreements anyway and how can they be better than the terms we have now when we're in the club and have FREE trade rights!?!?!"

Clearly not with Europe itself but with the Commonwealth, the emerging Asian nations, Africa (for agricultural imports) etc we could negotiate as a sovereign entity and not have to follow the egregiously protectionist policies dictated by Brussels. And our terms with Europe itself would not necessarily be worse. We are a big enough market to be able to negotiate decent terms without being a member of "the club".

"What about big manufacturers such as Nissan or Honda? They set up in the UK so they can sell cars in Europe to avoid import duties. If we're not part of Europe they'll probably move their production to Poland or another low cost EU country."

That is typical pro EU scaremongering. Why have they not already relocated to Hungary or Romania then? They are lower cost and they could export to Europe.

It has to be remembered that, within the UK, GDP is contributed by government, large industry and SMEs. Leaving the EU would have little impact on government and, arguably, a positive impact on SMEs which contribute 40% of UK GDP. There would debatable be a negative impact on large international companies but, relative to our entire GDP, this would not be the economic tsunami the rabid EU lobby would have us believe.

GollyGumdrops Wed 23-Jan-13 13:42:49

I would vote to stay in, most definitely. For lots of reasons. Economically, I fear the UK would not thrive outside of the EU for many years to come, if ever. The UK would lose political influence, not just in the EU but around the world. Socially, I agree with BadMissM and Dromedary. I have a horrible feeling that if there were no recourse to EU employment rights, discrimination law etc that most workers in the UK would become a LOT worse off under our current government who couldn't care less about the working conditions of employees. In a rapidly changing world, where the global race is on, I think the both UK and the EU need each other like never before if we're going move forward. Better together, in my opinion.

somebloke123 Wed 23-Jan-13 13:45:47

Dromedary

You seem to be saying that it's good that we're in the EU because it gives better employment rights than the UK government would give left to itself i.e. you think the EU's policies are preferable to those of our government.

But this is short sighted because maybe one day the EU will impose a policy you disagree with - perhaps one that the vast majority of UK citizens disagree with - and you/we wil have no democratic mechanism to change it.

niceguy2

No, "Norway" has warned us of no such thing. One particular minister a Mr Eide, has expressed an opinion. The political classes in most countries tend to be pro EU - even Iceland.

thorckenholt

Nothing to do with the EU, but the fact that modern democratic countries almost never go to war with one another. For Eastern Europe NATO will have had much more to do with it. Which EU countries do you think would have gone to war with one another if the EU had not existed?

Another point, someone above - and this is a common slur - suggested that EU-sceptics were motivated by xenophobia. It's nothing to do with that. You might as well accuse the Canadians of xenophobia for not wanting to be part of the USA.

legalalien Wed 23-Jan-13 13:49:44

Out. It's not just a question of voting on the status quo. The EU, as its founders intended, is evolving towards political union. I personally don't feel like a "european citizen" in the way that many of my Continental friends do.

Incidentally, i have spoke to quite a few Germans recently who say that despite polling data there is quite a lot of " on the ground" feeling that Germany should pull out of the euro and that the EU needs significant reform.

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 13:51:20

Ah ok. So what you are saying Larry is that our employees have too many rights as afforded by the EU and that if we left then businesses could be allowed to fire employees easier and our economy would therefore benefit from this newfound 'flexibility'. Correct?

Because that's not what is being said at least not out loud in the press.

As it happens, the UK already has laws which are less strict than our French/German & Spanish counterparts. We were prior to the economic meltdown seen as having a very flexible economy already.

Why have they not already relocated to Hungary or Romania then? They are lower cost and they could export to Europe.

Because our car manufacturing (well the bits that are left) are highly efficient and I assume they've done the calculations and worked out that it's still cheaper to make cars in the UK for the European market. But if we were outside the EU then cars manufactured in the UK would not be counted as EU cars and would then attract import tax. Given how competitive the car industry is, I think this would be the straw which breaks the camels back.

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 13:56:15

Well Somebloke, since Mr Eide is the Norwegian foreign minister, is speaking on topic and on record, I suspect he's talking with both experience and on behalf of his country.

Using your logic then Mr Cameron is merely expressing his opinion.

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