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?

somebloke123 Thu 24-Jan-13 10:28:48

Venus

"And what ever would the farmers do without their CAP? The net gain counties such as Kent would be totally ^%#ed, and the rest of us would have to bail them out. "

Where do you imagine that all this CAP money to subsidise the farmers came from originally? Grew on trees somewhere in Provence perhaps?

This is our money. We are heavy net contributors to the EU. If we left then we would, if we wished, subsidise our farmers by the same as they get at the moment and we would still be in profit. Except that we would then be able to determine our own agricultural policies.

As far as fishing is concerned, we would be absolutely free to set our own quotas, and require that any catch must be landed in the UK. We could allow foreign fishing boats in under license, or not, depending on our interests and issues of marine conservation. No more of this nonsense about throwing dead over-quota fish overboard. As a sovereign nation our fishing grounds would be ours again and extend 200 miles from the shore, or to the midpoint between us and any neighbouring country.

The Tories did actually have an excellent, detailed and well thought out fishing policy, involving taking back control of our fisheries, though it was dropped by Michael Howard.

Re jackboots: I think you are confusing UKIP, the nearest thing we have to a small-state libertarian party, with the National Socialists (NAZI = National Socialist German Workers' Party) which were in favour of a unified Europe under central control and state planning.

Harriet35 Thu 24-Jan-13 10:32:36

www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/nov/17/eu-referendum-poll

Most Labour voters would vote to leave. So why is the Labour party so pro-EU? Are they so out of touch with their voters? There's a massive gap between the Metropolitan elite who lead the party and the working-class people who vote for them. Sooner or later this is going to come to a sticky end and their vote will collapse.

somebloke123 Thu 24-Jan-13 10:45:59

Harriet35

Yes indeed, and it's completely wrong to identify an anti-EU stance as a right wing position. It's neither right nor left in itself. Nor is it in itself xenophobic.

It's nothing to do with whether you want a more redistributive taxation policy, nothing to do with whether you like the Itailans or French. It's very much to do with who you thing should govern us. Our own elected MPs or Brussels.

The British post war government which had the EU (in its previous nascent state as the European Coal and Steel Community) best sussed out was Atlee's postwar Labour government. There's a long list of old Labour types who were around at that time who had a principled anti Common Market/ EU stance: Ernest Bevin, Douglas Jay, Hugh Gaitskell, Michael Foot, Peter Shore, Tony Benn etc.

legalalien Thu 24-Jan-13 11:01:19

"Health and safety legislation wouldn't exist if it weren't for the EU". Err - apart from the fact that the uk had health and safety legislation prior to relevant Eu legislation, and that lots of independent countries have similar legislation? It might not be identical to eu legislation, but that's not quite the same thing....

Xiaoxiong Thu 24-Jan-13 11:07:39

I don't think it's right to say a lot of this legislation on environment, h&s etc wouldn't exist without the EU. It's mainly that the common standards across the EU massively reduces regulatory burdens on entities that need to comply with that legislation in order to carry out their normal course of business. In addition being within the EU means we get a say in that legislation as we will have to comply with it whether or not we are an EU MS if we want to keep the trade aspect going.

Dromedary Thu 24-Jan-13 11:12:01

Some of you are obviously more trusting in our democracy than I am. Look at who we are ruled by at the moment, and the huge mess they are making of it. They don't have a mandate for most of their policies - they make a few promises, some of which they subsequently happily break, get into power and then go about wreaking havoc. At least at the moment we can rely on our EU rights, eg not to be discriminated against because of gender, to have time off for maternity, to have paid holiday leave, etc. How long are those going to last once we are out of the EU?

legalalien Thu 24-Jan-13 11:17:44

Xiaoxiong this is not my area, but am i right to think that as a "third country" (a) we would be in the same position as other non-eu countries who export into the eu. Are carve outs ever negotiated as part of free trade agreements? (B) uk only requirements would apply to firms serving a domestic only market - presumably there are a fair few companies who don't aim to export and (c) exports to non- eu countries would continue, as is currently the case, depend on regs in those countries, so that a uk business exporting globally already has a range of regulatory requirements to meet?

Also, are the bulk of the regulations out-put based (i.e relating tomthe end product) or input-based (relating to things like sustainability, how the business is run etc). I'd be interested to know.

legalalien Thu 24-Jan-13 11:25:02

Yes, dromedary, i am. Probably because i grew up in a democracy which affords social rights absent the oversight of a body such as the eu. I think that the detail of matters such as amounts of paid leave should be determined nationally based on national conditions.

And for the record, let's not forget that the european court of human rights is a creature of the council of europe, not the eu. Coming out of the eu wouldn't affect the convention or echr, although it would be less entrenched in that presumably the overlapping jurisdiction of the european court of justice would fall away.

flatpackhamster Thu 24-Jan-13 12:36:37

Dromedary

Some of you are obviously more trusting in our democracy than I am. Look at who we are ruled by at the moment, and the huge mess they are making of it. They don't have a mandate for most of their policies - they make a few promises, some of which they subsequently happily break, get into power and then go about wreaking havoc. At least at the moment we can rely on our EU rights, eg not to be discriminated against because of gender, to have time off for maternity, to have paid holiday leave, etc. How long are those going to last once we are out of the EU?

I'm not sure I like the argument of "I'd rather live in a dictatorship which suited my political persuasion than a democracy which doesn't." It's a short step from that argument to arresting journalists and gulags.

Aquelven Thu 24-Jan-13 13:04:25

EU membership costs UK billions of pounds and large numbers of lost jobs thanks to unnecessary and excessive red tape, substantial membership and aid contributions, inflated consumer prices and other associated costs.

Britain will lose more jobs when such Directives as the EU’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive comes into effect. This is already causing hedge fund and private equity markets to migrate elsewhere, doing substantial harm to financial services, responsible for 12% of the British economy and 15% of income tax receipts.

The Common Fisheries Policy has cost British coastal communities 115,000 jobs since we joined. Ted Heath, really did sell our thriving fidhing industry down the river when he gave up our fishing rights as a condition of joining, something along with much else that we were not told about when we were given the only vote we've ever been allowed. Though many of us, me included, voted No as it was obvious even then in the Treaty of Rome that the ultimate aim was a federal Europe.

Sophiathesnowfairy Thu 24-Jan-13 13:27:29

Yep, someone up thread said Europe is a club. Tis is most Definately my experience and I have been working with an organisation in Brussels that brings together representatives from all the member states.

We try our best to join in but we can't quite get there. We seem to always be tagging along on the edge. And then I find when I get back to my UK office it is a battle to implement processes and ideas that will help us to align more because we have our own ideas and we struggle with changing.

I am piggy in the middle.

We either need to be part of Europe and our government need to align polices and legislation or go our own way. No more of this fannying around.

legalalien Thu 24-Jan-13 13:33:18

And AIFM is the tip of the iceberg. But because ofnthe post financial crisis vitriol against "bankers" i doubt people will take an unemotive stance to the issue of european financial services regulation.

This 2011 paper by Open Europe is worth a read if anyone is interested.

www.openeurope.org.uk/Content/Documents/PDFs/continentalshift.pdf

Xiaoxiong Thu 24-Jan-13 14:37:36

legalalien - I will answer your queries solely based on my own area - different areas (eg. financial services regulation) will obviously often be different. But what I do impacts so much on the trade side of things that it is very pertinent to anyone who says things like "I want to pull back from the free movement side of the EU but the free trade side is important and we should keep it". Turning to your queries:

(a) would we would be in the same position as other non-eu countries who export into the eu. Are carve outs ever negotiated as part of free trade agreements?

Yes we would, and companies from those non-EU countries pay us a lot of money to advise them how to comply with EU regulations in order to place their goods on the market. Obviously at the moment that means they only need to go through one regulatory exercise with EU compliance. But if we left the EU they would need to go through a separate exercise for the UK market. It's likely that unless the UK kept their regulatory requirements identical to the EU ones after a split, many non-UK manufacturers would not bother making products that complied solely with UK requirements as we wouldn't be a big enough market to make it worth their while.

I've never seen a jurisdiction based carve-out for any of the product regulatory stuff I work with. CE marking, for instance, is non-negotiable for many products regardless of where they come from. However there are sometimes carve-outs for very small volume and extremely specialist products in the legislation itself. Free trade agreements have no interaction with this type of legislation and tend to be concerned more about import duties and other forms of financial barriers rather than regulatory barriers.

If you were the EU would you sign a free trade agreement with the newly non-EU UK means they are allowed to put twice as much lead in a toy as manufacturers from everywhere else in the world, and still sell it legally in the EU? Of course not. But that just means then that if UK regulations diverge from EU ones, the UK loses access to EU markets and it then is up to companies to try and comply with no ability to rely on their elected representatives to represent their interests when the regulations are drawn up.

(B) uk only requirements would apply to firms serving a domestic only market - presumably there are a fair few companies who don't aim to export and (c) exports to non- eu countries would continue, as is currently the case, depend on regs in those countries, so that a uk business exporting globally already has a range of regulatory requirements to meet?

I have never worked with a UK manufacturer who manufactured entirely in the UK, sold entirely in the domestic market and whose raw materials and end-of-life processes (recycling/reuse etc) were all entirely in the UK. I can't think of any off the top of my head. The EU is just so much closer geographically that for example a number of our clients based in the South East send their waste to Belgium for reprocessing as it's in fact geographically and logistically closer to their site of operations than anything in the UK. Remember that producer responsibility doesn't start and end with the factory it's built in - it extends all the way up the chain to the raw materials and there are also end-of-life duties for take-back and recycling.

I guess UK businesses could turn their backs entirely on the EU and export only to North Africa, the Middle East, America, South America etc as they do already as you note correctly. But often for our clients the increased costs of transportation to those markets are usually offset by their sales in the EU which have far less cost of transport to get a product onto the market. So you would be left with the really expensive exports to potentially higher risk low priced markets, and without access to a huge, higher priced and lower risk market right on your doorstep to set off against that cost. For some this would be a good business proposition I suppose - for many, it will be a huge blow.

Also, are the bulk of the regulations out-put based (i.e relating tomthe end product) or input-based (relating to things like sustainability, how the business is run etc).

Impossible to say: the input based regulations - eg. requiring that wood used to make a toy comes from a sustainable source and isn't cut from the Amazon - obviously become output based because if you then try to sell a product made from non-compliant raw materials, it cannot be sold on the common market. But there isn't a single phase of a product design cycle and supply chain that isn't regulated in some way. Any deviation between the UK rules and the rest of the EU and the entire market would be closed off for us.

legalalien Thu 24-Jan-13 14:43:20

Thanks, that's helpful! Another piece in the decisionmaking jigsaw.

flatpackhamster Thu 24-Jan-13 16:15:55

Of course, being outside the EU, we wouldn't be governed by EU rules and thus only those businesses affected by EU regs would have to obey them, whereas those involved in the domestic or non-EU markets would not.

XiaoXiong's post drifts over the salient point that the UK's services market is far larger than the manufacturing one, employs far more people, generates far more revenue and can quite easily run the entirety of its business without once being involved in an EU market. Yet those businesses are still required to kowtow to the mandarins in Brussels.

TeddyBare Thu 24-Jan-13 16:24:22

I don't expect that there will actually be a referendum because it's such a huge risk for big businesses and they (probably) have enough influence to ensure it never comes about. However even if a referendum was held tomorrow I don't think we'd vote to leave the EU. I suspect that there are a lot of people who love to hate the EU but if forced to actually choose would choose to keep it.

niceguy2 Thu 24-Jan-13 17:07:07

Flatpack. Yes, the services industry is larger than manufacturing but we are in desperate need to rebalance our economy. In short we actually need more manufacturing.

Manufacturing industries create wealth. Services tend to shift money around rather than add real value. One of the reasons why we were so exposed to the financial meltdown is because our financial services industry is out of whack to the rest of our economy. Same reason in Iceland except they were even worse!

The only way our country will grow and keep up in the world is if we have competitive exporters. By leaving the EU we'd make it harder for our exporters to compete to our largest market!

You say we are kowtowing. But it seems to me that many of the rules we'd lose would simply be replaced or not wanted in the first place. You mentioned earlier that one advantage is that we could let staff go easier. Another I guess is we could ignore the working time directive and people can be made to work more than 48 hours a week.

Is that really what most people want?

mathanxiety Thu 24-Jan-13 17:18:30

I agree with Niceguy's points here.

The country that stands to benefit most from the drain of international corporate hq's from the UK that would result from leaving the EU is Ireland, but of course there would be repercussions for Ireland as a trading partner of Britain if the UK left. The prospect of leaving would create major issues wrt NI's trading relationship with the Republic. Not smart to discount the major impact leaving would have on one large region of the state.

It's a completely idiotic idea of Cameron's to think he could renegotiate membership in the first place but also to think he could renegotiate membership with the only promise he can offer in good faith to anyone who would negotiate with him being a referendum, when his own party is the loudest noisemaker in the anti EU camp.

Of course, being outside the EU, we wouldn't be governed by EU rules and thus only those businesses affected by EU regs would have to obey them, whereas those involved in the domestic or non-EU markets would not.

This is a complete fallacy. Countries wishing to trade with a major economic bloc toe the line where rules and regs go. All British exporters to EU countries would have to comply. Not just food producers, etc.

mathanxiety Thu 24-Jan-13 17:29:15

What's the guarantee that the EU's negotiating position will be in the UK's national interest?

The guarantee is that Germany does not want to have to bail out Britain in the event of economic disaster.

Molepom Thu 24-Jan-13 17:35:25

Personally I think we're screwed either way so it doesnt really matter any more what they do or don't do.

vadus Thu 24-Jan-13 17:51:53

somebloke123
^It's nothing to do with whether you want a more redistributive
taxation policy, nothing to do with whether you like the Itailans or
French. It's very much to do with who you thing should govern us. Our
own elected MPs or Brussels.^

Our own elected MPs don't govern us. The government governs us, and it
isn't elected, though it needs the support of parliament, which is.
Similarly, the European Commission (the closest analogue to the UK
government on EU level) isn't elected, but it needs the support of the European Parliament, which is.

It's instructive to compare how the members of UK and EU political
institutions are chosen:

UK institutions:

House of Commons: directly elected, but using first past the post
system, which means proportion of seats per party doesn't reflect
proportion of vote.

House of Lords: small part unelected hereditary peers, greater part appointed for life (effectively) by PM.

Government: Queen (unelected!) asks somebody (effectively always the
leader of largest party) to form government (i.e. be PM), PM picks
ministers, doesn't need parliamentary approval for his choices.

EU institutions:

European Parliament: Directly elected using proportional
representation system. Number of seats per country roughly reflects
population size, but slightly favours smaller countries.

Council of the European Union (formerly Council of Ministers):
Consists of the Ministers of the member states in each policy area
(e.g all finance ministers, all home/interior ministers etc.). See
"Government" above for how British representatives are chosen.

European Commission: European Council (essentially all the heads of
government of the EU member states, including UK PM) proposes
candidate for president of commission to European Parliament, which
has to give its approval. 26 further commissioners proposed by European
Council, such that there is one commissioner from each member state
and for each policy area; European Parliament needs to approve
commission as a whole.

In both the UK and the EU there are many unelected civil
servants/bureaucrats which help carry out the work of government.

I think this comparison shows that it isn't the case that UK
institutions are completely democratic and that EU institutions are
wholly undemocratic. In my opinion, both EU and UK institutions could
do with reform to make them more democratic.

I think the big difference is that very few people take an interest in
what goes on in the EU institutions, it gets hardly any coverage in
the media, and a much smaller percentage of the population votes in
EU elections than in UK parliamentary elections.

It's also worth pointing out that we don't just have a national
government in the UK, we also have regional government (in the
Scottish Parliament/Welsh Assembly) and local government (councils).
If you accept that these bodies make the decisions that affect your
life, why is it unacceptable to you that some political decisions are taken
on a European level?

vadus Thu 24-Jan-13 18:05:06

flatpackhamster
the UK's services market is far larger than the manufacturing one, employs far more people, generates far more revenue and can quite easily run the entirety of its business without once being involved in an EU market. Yet those businesses are still required to kowtow to the mandarins in Brussels.

It's nonsense to say that the UK's service industries don't rely on the EU. Tourism is an example of a service industry which relies quite heavily on it. And like it or not, the UK's service industry has benefited considerably from cheap labour from the eastern EU member states.

vadus Thu 24-Jan-13 18:14:28

It's worth pointing out that common EU regulations don't just benefit British businesses (by helping them to export), they also benefit British consumers: Common EU regulations means its easier for companies from other EU countries to sell their goods and services to UK consumers, which means more choice, and lower prices due to greater competition.

legalalien Thu 24-Jan-13 18:39:37

Yet another complication- the interests of individuals in their capacity as consumers and of uk manufacturers are not congruent.

I'm not confident we can come up with an accurate economic analysis of the alternatives. So I would vote on political grounds, possibly, contrary to my normal practice, on gut feeling.

vadus Thu 24-Jan-13 21:15:43

Yet another complication- the interests of individuals in their capacity as consumers and of uk manufacturers are not congruent.

They are, provided that those manufactures are internationally competitive.

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