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?

It would depend on the question. However, I think turnout would be so low that no government could legitimately claim a mandate for significant change.

SilverOldie Tue 15-Jan-13 15:32:04

I think the vote would go in favour of withdrawal, if that was the question. I would like to see the money currently sent to Brussels used in our country rather than support bloated, unaudited overspending in Brussels.

niceguy2 Tue 15-Jan-13 18:01:37

It actually scares me to think that we could blindly withdraw from Europe.

And whilst I agree that Europe is wasting a lot of money, I think leaving the EU will do more harm than good.

It is the biggest single market in the world. So many companies set up in the UK because we can freely trade with all 27 EU countries and since English is the business language of the world, we are the obvious choice.

If we left Europe, a lot of large companies would simply move their European HQ to another EU state. A lot of jobs would also be at risk.

I know there's talk of us staying in the EU like Norway but honestly that's speculation. And an assumption that the EU needs us more than we need them. And frankly a very dangerous game. The other EU nations are already exasperated at Britain and the perception is that we've joined the club but want to cherry pick the rules we want.

I think a lot of the problems are due to the common perception that Europe is a waste of money. Something peddled by the tabloid press along with all benefit claimants are scroungers.

The economy nowadays is based upon one single thing. Confidence. The money we have in our pockets is not backed up by anything anymore. It's value is merely down to our confidence that we can spend it. Companies manufacture and invest based on confidence in the economy. A withdrawal will have a massive short to medium term impact on the confidence of the UK government and in turn the UK economy.

In short if we leave the EU or investors seriously think it's a possibility, the result will be another recession and more austerity measures which will make the current lot look easy.

DeepRedBetty Tue 15-Jan-13 18:12:19

I'd like to have much looser arrangements with Europe. It annoys me that the referendum on joining it was held when I was only a little girl, and since then the organisation has changed immensely but my generation and younger has never been allowed an opportunity to comment, as all the main parties are committed to staying in.

Niceguy I hear what you're saying, but don't they all want to cherry pick? I'm thinking of, for example, the rules on improving conditions for intensively farmed chickens that we've enforced but a number of others have wriggled out of. This has lead to a situation whereby EU regulations forbid forcing a product to have country of origin, so eggs can be imported into the UK with nothing more than 'Produce of the EU' on the packaging, and we have no way of telling at point of sale if they've been farmed in conditions that we as a country have deemed unacceptable. Bear in mind the vast numbers of 'invisible' eggs, used to produce processed food (quiches, frozen things in batter, cakes, that sort of thing).

niceguy2 Tue 15-Jan-13 19:01:37

Hi Betty

And I think your example is a very good example. The EU or as it's old name used to be 'the common market' is as it's name suggests. And the best way for that to work is if we had same (or incredibly similar) rules.

So using your example we as members of the EU single market should accept the same rules as every other EU member. By introducing our own 'better' standards and then using those conditions to try and limit free trade goes against the principles of the EU. And in effect we're again trying to cherry pick the rules we prefer.

The EU is a club. And as club members we agree to the rules of membership. If we want to change the rules as members then we do so from within. But in the meantime we stick to the rules.

The problem is that at the moment we keep threatening to quit and take our ball home with us. And the other members are getting pissed off now and sooner or later we'll get our bluff called.

And that's all I think it is at the moment, a bluff. I don't think we have any serious alternative plan. The Tory approach to this seems to be all over the place. Frankly it's a shambles.

Lastly it scares me even more that with the combination of the Scottish Independence referendum and talk of an EU one that in a few years time the 7th largest economy in the world, the UK will be broken up and end up as just England. The equivalent of getting divorced and getting the sack all at the same time.

YDdraigGoch Tue 15-Jan-13 19:07:36

I vote for out. I think the EU costs Britain a lot more than what we get out if it.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 16-Jan-13 08:18:41

I'm interested in the political strategy of it. Offering a referendum appears to be a good way of silencing both the Euro-phobes and the Euro-philes in all parties. I'd assume that the Coalition would only offer a referendum if they were fairly sure of the response.

flatpackhamster Wed 16-Jan-13 08:42:32

niceguy2

Hi Betty

And I think your example is a very good example. The EU or as it's old name used to be 'the common market' is as it's name suggests. And the best way for that to work is if we had same (or incredibly similar) rules.

The Common Market is not (repeat NOT) the old name for the EU. The Common Market was, at the time, an agreed set of trading rules. The EU is a political entity, a supranational government.

So using your example we as members of the EU single market should accept the same rules as every other EU member. By introducing our own 'better' standards and then using those conditions to try and limit free trade goes against the principles of the EU. And in effect we're again trying to cherry pick the rules we prefer.

That's exactly what every country does. Let me give you an example. A couple of years ago France decided that it wanted to change the rules on ground beef (beef mince). In France, they eat steak tartare, which is raw ground beef served with a raw egg. The beef has to be very fresh - no more than three days between slaughter and grinding. So they wanted a rule to specify that all ground beef sold in France had to be no more than 3 days old.

Because food and agriculture are run by the EU, France couldn't simply impose that rule. It had to get a ruling from the Commission, which it tried to do. Because the laws can't apply to a single country, if France had succeeded that would have meant that all ground beef, sold everywhere within the EU, could have been no more than 3 days old.

Naturally, to those of us with functioning tastebuds, that's a travesty. Beef has to be hung in order to get the best flavour from it. The darker the beef (or mince) the better the flavour. The sad-looking pink stuff you see in the supermarket should be kept in the fridge for at least a week before you eat it.

Culinary advice aside, the point is that France was trying to 'cherry pick' the rules to suit itself. And every country does this. If you didn't, you'd be an idiot.

The EU is a club. And as club members we agree to the rules of membership.

No, it's a supranational government, which keeps changing the rules, and which disregards the views of the members on those rules. See the ignored referenda on the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty.

If we want to change the rules as members then we do so from within. But in the meantime we stick to the rules.

Why? Everyone else tries to change the rules as they go along, as in the example I quoted above. Even today there's a Spanish socialist MEP who's tabled a motion in Parliament which would require companies who laid off staff to find them alternative work. Because the parliament is just a rubber-stamping tool for the Commission that motion has no power, but it's another example of how every nation tries to change the rules to suit themselves.

What a ridiculous idea that we should just do what we're told and if we don't like it then that's just tough.

The problem is that at the moment we keep threatening to quit and take our ball home with us. And the other members are getting pissed off now and sooner or later we'll get our bluff called.

What are they going to do? They can't force the UK out of the EU. The only way that the UK can leave the EU is by invoking article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The UK can't be forced out. Frankly, the northern members need us far more than we need the EU, because we help to counterbalance the handout countries to the south when it comes to votes.

And that's all I think it is at the moment, a bluff. I don't think we have any serious alternative plan. The Tory approach to this seems to be all over the place. Frankly it's a shambles.

Yes, and that's because Cameron is a a Europhile leading a party which is around 2/3 opposed to EU membership. The man's a fool and it'll come back and bite him.

Lastly it scares me even more that with the combination of the Scottish Independence referendum and talk of an EU one that in a few years time the 7th largest economy in the world, the UK will be broken up and end up as just England. The equivalent of getting divorced and getting the sack all at the same time.

Scotland won't leave (sadly) and what if it did? With that massive drag off the English economy, and us free of the high costs of EU regulation, we'd be freer and richer than we have been for decades.

A Britain free of the EU would be a glorious place to live. We'd be able to rebuild our fishing and farming industries, which would breathe new life in to coastal towns and country villages. We'd have cheaper electricity because we wouldn't be required to produce 20% of our power from bird-killing windmills, which would pull the poorest part of our population out of fuel poverty. We'd be able to block the million or so Romanians and Bulgarians who will turn up next year to claim benefits and housing and take the last few low-skilled jobs from the hands of our working classes. We wouldn't be tied to EU rules on corporate taxation which mean that multinationals pay their tax on the money they earn in the UK in Luxembourg instead.

The losers from our leaving the EU would be big business and big government. Frankly, they can go hang.

somebloke123 Wed 16-Jan-13 14:35:37

I think any such referendum is likely to be fudged. Or we are given 3 choices:

Do you think the UK should

1. Stay in the EU on current terms?
2. Stay and renegotiate?
3. Leave?

such that 1+2 votes would be likely to be greater than 3.

In the run up to the vote, all the usual suspects - big business (not SMEs who would not get a look in), big finance, unions, BBC and the old bruisers like Heseltine and Clark would be wheeled out to say what a catastrophe it would be if we left.

It would be little effort for them to do this. All they would have to do is to cut and paste from the articles they wrote several years ago detailing why it would be disastrous for the UK not to join the Euro (UK isolated, 3m jobs at risk, no seat at the top negotiating table, City sidelined by Frankfurst etc etc).

In fact we can't just renegotiate as we would need agreement from the 27 states to hold an intergovernmental conference and hammer out a new treaty for our benefit.

The only way we could get a new settlement is by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty signalling our intention to leave. We would then be involved in real negotiations.

But Cameron will never do this.

niceguy2 Thu 17-Jan-13 14:15:09

@flatpack. I hear what you are saying and I totally get that other EU members want to change the rules which favour them the most. But the difference is that you don't hear France threatening to quit if they don't get their way.

And that's basically what the UK is pretty much saying right now. And as much as the EU wants us to stay (since we have a large economy), I doubt they will allow us to hold them to ransom. Otherwise another country will do exactly the same after us.

I don't have any issues with fighting our corner within Europe but it's just ridiculous to keep threatening to leave if we don't get our way. It's the equivalent of a petulant teenager having a strop and threatening to move out unless the parents do x,y,z. Sooner or later you have to call their bluff.

flatpackhamster Thu 17-Jan-13 14:31:22

Well you do hear of political parties in other countries talking about leaving the EU. But our media is so ghastly that access to European news is practically nil. It's like people saying "Oh, why is it only the UK that struggles with a bit of snow". It isn't, it's just that 'Trains don't run on time in Denmark due to dusting of snow' doesn't reach our media.

What I tend to do is read the English-language versions of European newspapers, which gives a much better insight in to the back-and-forth of European politics.

There are anti-EU parties, both large and small, in countries across the EU, but if you think about, say, how little airtime UKIP got until recently, you're not going to hear about a minor party in the Slovakian elections opposing EU membership.

niceguy2 Thu 17-Jan-13 14:36:38

I'm sure there are some parties in other countries who would like to leave. But we're talking about the ruling party in the UK. Not some small fringe party or even the opposition.

I get that some of this rhetoric is very possibly brinkmanship but it seems to me we're quickly boxing ourselves into a corner.

flatpackhamster Thu 17-Jan-13 14:45:23

You should be pleased that anti-EU sentiment is more mainstream here, because that does at least reflect in some form the dominant sentiment amongst the electorate.

The EU can't boot the UK out, even if it wanted to. The only way that the UK can leave is by invoking article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

It would be nice, I agree, if the discussion was more grown up.

ironman Fri 18-Jan-13 00:20:01

I think what will happen is the following; Cameron will try to cherry pick(claw back what he can from the EU) this will fail as Merkel will not allow it and probably other EU countries also. Cameron wants to allay fears of some of his MPs regarding Ukip, as 900.000 voted for them at the last election. The electorate who will vote Ukip has increased, this will put (and has) the willies up Cameron.
Cameron will then if he is in power (with a majority, which is highly unlikely)
have to call a referendum. The outcome of course is not known.

flatpackhampster You are right the EU cannot 'boot us out' but my feeling is that they would make it uncomfortable for Britain to stay, if they do not repatriate any of the powers or policies Cameron will ask for, he will make himself unpopular and Britain will become isolated. I think many want the relationship that Norway has with the EU, whether we will get is another thing.

Does Cameron seriously think that the EU will give back any of the 55 million we give it a day? The EU has changed greatly since it emerged as the Common Market over 40 years ago. When there last was a referendum on the EU, I couldn't even vote on it!
I wonder how many MNs voted in the last referendum?....Just a thought.grin

ironman Fri 18-Jan-13 00:21:27

Goodnight.

niceguy2 Fri 18-Jan-13 07:51:45

I agree. The EU cannot 'kick us out'. Noone has suggested that. But the issue is one of credibility. We're the ones hinting about possibly leaving. Merkel and the rest would be crazy to let us cherry pick as it opens the floodgates for everyone else. So then we're left with either following through and leaving or looking silly after getting our bluff called. If the latter happens then whose going to take the UK seriously at the next EU meeting?

As for all the talk of having a Norway option, I can't see why this helps us at all. Yes we get certain powers back. We'd still have to stick to all EU trade laws & standards. But we can no longer help define those rules. Isn't that the exact opposite of what we intended? ie. to have more control?

We've had years & years of the press telling us how much money EU bureaucrats are wasting. How immigrants are coming to steal our jobs and squat on our benefits. What we are not seeing are articles explaining how many jobs depend on the EU.

I read somewhere that 52% of our exports go to EU countries. So it seems to me a HUGE gamble to our economy that we can negotiate a Norway style membership at the risk of having EU import taxes slapped on our exports.

somebloke123 Fri 18-Jan-13 16:00:31

The figure often quoted is 3 million jobs.

In very round figures, 80% of our GDP goes into goods and services for the UK. The other 20% are exports, split roughly equally between the EU and the rest of the world. (Actually this may overestimate the exports to the EU due to the "Rotterdam effect" - the fact that quite a lot of the exports nominally to the EU are then just forwarded on to places outside.) The proportion to the EU is falling.

So that makes sense of you assume the number of jobs is proportional to these percentages. Total workforce around 30 million, so 3 million associated with trade with the EU.

Note though that it's jobs dependent on trade with the EU, not on membership of the EU. By the same token there are 6-7 million jobs in the EU dependent on trade with the UK.

The 3 million jobs figure was originally arrived at by an economic research institute, doing work for a pro-EU lobbying group which then claimed that the jobs were at risk if we left. This misinterpretation so incensed the director of the research institute that he called it "pure Goebels".

www.democracymovementsurrey.co.uk/dyk_impactonjobs.html

It's unlikely that our leaving the EU would lead to any kind of trade war with the EU as we import more from them than they from us, and if Mexico can negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU then so can we.

juneau Fri 18-Jan-13 16:06:08

I would vote to repatriate certain powers to Westminster (particularly regarding immigration, benefits, working hours, etc).

I wouldn't vote to withdraw from Europe.

We get a lot from Europe as well as giving a lot and many of the foreign companies based in the UK are here because of ease of trade with the EU. If we withdrew ourselves it would be a disaster for the UK trade-wise. I'd like to see some economics boffin put a figure on what it would cost us - but it would be a lot. We'd lose a lot of our clout in terms of world politics too.

niceguy2 Sun 20-Jan-13 12:29:37

I would vote to repatriate certain powers to Westminster....
...I wouldn't vote to withdraw from Europe.

Yes, I would do exactly the same. Except the EU isn't likely to let us to repatriate powers. And the main reason is that if they let us do it, then other countries will also want to cherry pick the bits they want to abide by too.

So we can vote all we like but the EU may tell us that we either put up & shut up or we are welcome to go. And the way we've positioned ourselves we may end up going.

flatpackhamster Tue 22-Jan-13 11:44:59

juneau

I would vote to repatriate certain powers to Westminster (particularly regarding immigration, benefits, working hours, etc).

I wouldn't vote to withdraw from Europe.

You don't have that choice. What do you think the EU is, some trading organisation you can pick and choose the rules in?

The EU is a government. It rules us, and it's going to keep expanding its powers until Westminster has no power except to vote its MPs pay rises.

You're either in or you're out. There's no in-between stage.

We get a lot from Europe as well as giving a lot and many of the foreign companies based in the UK are here because of ease of trade with the EU. If we withdrew ourselves it would be a disaster for the UK trade-wise. I'd like to see some economics boffin put a figure on what it would cost us - but it would be a lot.

What would we lose? Which markets would be closed to the UK and which industries would be affected?

We'd lose a lot of our clout in terms of world politics too.

Membership of the EU loses us influence. We're going to have to give up our permanent seat on the UN Security Council to the EU. We've already lost our independent position on trade to the EU.

flatpackhamster Tue 22-Jan-13 12:35:42

Interesting article in today's Telegraph about how closely linked British and German exports are. Britain has overtaken France as the primary trade partner within the EU.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/industry/9816643/Britain-becomes-Germanys-biggest-trade-partner-as-Berlin-London-pact-deepens.html

The EU now makes up just 37% of Germany's exports, compared to 46% a decade ago. It's becoming less and less economically relevant to Germany.

Callisto Wed 23-Jan-13 08:27:53

It is the never-ending power grab that worried me the most. The way its going in another 20 years the EU will have become the Federal States of Europe, with all the countries run by Brussels and only very minimal governing powers given to each member state.

I don't like the kind of democracy that Brussels approves of and although I can see there are benefits of trade and stability, I don't want to give up the right to run my own country through the kind of democracy (and accountability) we have in the UK. When the expenses scandle happened, there were an awful lot of EU members ridiculing our horror at the corruption of our politicians. That makes me want to be ruled by Brussels even less.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Jan-13 09:25:22

As we're only going to get a referendum if there is another Tory or Coalition government do we think today's speech improves or reduces the PM's election chances?

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 09:27:38

What would we lose? Which markets would be closed to the UK and which industries would be affected?

Our entire approach is basically to assume we can leave the EU but remain in the free trade club like Norway/Switzerland. This assumption is dangerous because the other EU members will not actually want this at all and we're relying upon two very poor politicians to deliver this. Plus this sort of cherry picking is exactly why the other EU countries are pissed off with us.

If we leave the EU and don't stay a member of the free market then our exports would be subject to duty. This would make our goods/services more expensive and put consumers off buying them. That translates to less jobs.

Regardless of if we stay in the euro market, over time we would find a lot of important industries relocating their head offices to mainland Europe. Especially to tax havens like Luxembourg. They may choose to keep a small UK HQ but the tax revenues and many jobs would slowly trickle towards the EU.

Lastly I really don't understand the idea of not wanting to abide by EU rules....so we'll quit.....except we want to stay sort of in the club....but then we no longer can influence setting of any future rules.....

That's not a strategy....that's just cutting off our noses to spite our face.

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 09:30:16

FlatpackHamster,

What great posts!

All the political parties keep promising referenda and then backing away from them. To be honest, why does the referendum have to be next parliament (assuming the Cons get re-elected)? I don't trust any promise a parliament ahead. My betting is that it will be delayed for one reason or another and then finally forgotten.

The EU has been a complete con trick. I remember my parents explaining the first referendum to me about the common market when I was about 10 years old. It was all about free trade. It had nothing to do with common laws, common currency or tax harmonisation. Every constitutional change since 1975 has been allowed through via party co-operation. When you look at how many ex political bigwigs from every stage of the political spectrum go on to very highly paid tax free jobs in Europe, it is easy to see the incentives of the political class. However, for everyone else, it seems to be an expensive bureaucracy in exchange for very nebulous benefits.

People like to compare us to Norway or Switzerland. The reality is we are nothing like either of them. Singapore and Hong Kong do very well on their own, as does the U.S. However clearly one is so big to be a continent and the others are so small that they can exist purely on finance and a couple of other industries. I cannot see a good analogy to the UK but I am sure that we are big enough and rich enough to negotiate decent trade agreements with the rest of the world.

It would be really interesting to read some unbiased analysis of the economic pros and cons of leaving Europe. The reality is that what big business says has to be heavily discounted. The relocation of financial service staff due to the 50/45% tax, deferred bonuses etc has probably happened at 10-20% of the rate threatened and I suspect a similar discount rate should be applied to companies moving their HQs into mainland Europe. Language, inertia and access to all the facilities of London will play a big part in keeping them here.

Finally, this is not just about economics. Do we want to be absorbed into a superstate (and we are 70% there already) or do we want the oldest democracy to remain an independent democracy and Westminster laws to have meaning? There is a huge democratic deficit within the EU (which is why Machiavellian types like Mandelson love it so much). Until that is remedied (and I cannot see how it really can be), I want to be out of Europe.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 23-Jan-13 09:31:16

It's much better to be on the inside pissing out in my opinion. We should definitely stay in the EU. There are lots of problems with Europe: the bureaucracy, the need to get the agreement of so many members means there are lots of political fudges, the Euro. But it's still the best political club for us to be in an we are too insignificant in world to go it alone.

Our relationship with the USA is so strong because they see us as the most useful ally inside the EU. If we were outside the EU they would find a friend who is inside and we'd be sidelined by the most important global power.

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 09:34:18

Our relationship with the U.S is not "so strong". That is a useful lie that the U.S use to keep us onside when they go to war or need a voting ally in the U.N. As Obama said recently "the U.S is a Pacific nation". They are reorienting their military and economic aims to take advantage of the Asian growth story.

Tell me where we gain from this fantastic "special" relationship?

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 23-Jan-13 09:38:01

Of course the USA looks to build relationships in all areas of the world too. But in terms of Europe we are still their closest ally and Germany or France would love to step up and take that role. They will if we are not in the EU.

amillionyears Wed 23-Jan-13 09:39:56

I dont know how the vote would go.
Depends a bit, like another poster said, whether they would smudge the question.

I think there are a lot of undecided voters.

Sometimes people opt for the status quo, because they are afraid of change, and the uncertainty of change.

For me, a big question has always been peace.
If we left, is there more likely to be a war.
Probably not, if it was just us that left?

imogengladhart Wed 23-Jan-13 09:40:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 23-Jan-13 09:45:25

This is a bloody joke, a cynical political ploy to win votes but at the same time placing the political and financial stability of the UK in great danger.

Cameron is shameful, and the most dangerous PM in modern times, placing his own quest for power far ahead of the good of the country, time and time again.

I hope that the vote will keep us in the EU, even though I agree reforms need to be made in the EU.

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 10:01:02

If only it were a joke Petite!

Personally I think DC is a boy in a man's world. Our approach at the moment seems to be if you don't let us play the way we want to then we'll take our ball home. That's never a mature attitude.

It may well be that under DC we end up going from the UK as a core member of the EU to England billy no mates.

The only silver lining is that he's said several times that the referendum would be offered 'under a conservative government' and that at the moment looks unlikely.

Language, inertia and access to all the facilities of London will play a big part in keeping them here.

I'm sorry but English is the most commonly spoken language and the defacto second language in most of the world. I travel a lot for my work and language isn't a big deal. Any professional level job, the employee will be able to speak practically perfect English. Hell, I have a few dutch colleagues who can speak English better than most Brits!

And you are banking on inertia to keep big business here??? Seriously?

London is the financial capital of the world because of our timezone (we're slap bang in the middle), our friendly laws AND free access to the EU markets. If we removed that we'd see banks all wanting to establish a new European HQ so they can continue to trade in Euros. Their timezone is only +1 so no biggie. And English isn't a big deal either.

Lastly we don't need many big businesses to go or many jobs to be affected by import duty before we as a nation have a flipping big problem. Even using your 10%-20% yardstick. Can you imagine the impact to our economy if we lost 10% of our employment or tax revenues?

lainiekazan Wed 23-Jan-13 10:02:48

I agree with larrygrylls. The EU was supposed to be about trade - and now look at it.

No one (well, about three people probably) signed up for pan-European rules/laws. Some of these (mobility of workers, benefits offered) very seriously impact on Britain.

Members of the European Parliament and other employees have ridiculously generous benefits and no one seems to police them. It is clearly a very cushy number as existing employees are desperate to shoehorn their family members into the organisation. Here we have Neil & Glenys Kinnock flying the European nepotism flag and in Italy (of which I have a little knowledge) it is many people's dream to work there and sadly employees do not seem to be recruited on merit.

EnjoyResponsibly Wed 23-Jan-13 10:03:16

I'm probably going to sound a bit naive here, but I think that we will need some better transparency around numbers to enable a decision.

It's very easy for non-EU proponents to throw around the immigration to the UK numbers and cost to our state handouts, and cost per capita of running the EU without looking at the opposite side. For instance the benefit per capita to our economy from free trade, and the number of Brits that very easily migrate to live in countries like France, Spain and Cyprus.

I'm for a referendum, but I want better facts to make an informed choice.

I shudder at the prospect of 6 years of that Farage man pontificating on the horrors of the EU.

Callisto Wed 23-Jan-13 10:03:42

PetiteRaleuse - tell me which politician of modern times has not put their own "quest for power far ahead of the good of the country"? And in fact I think Blair was far, far worse.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 23-Jan-13 10:09:00

I totally agree with niceguy. We are an attractive base for business but not if we withdraw from the EU. Saying a referendum will take place in 5 years time is like hanging the Sword of Damocles over the UK. "Will we stay in / will we come out?" uncertainly could be the death knell for an ailing economy IMO. And our good relationships within the EU (and we have many) will turn to dust.

amyboo Wed 23-Jan-13 10:14:11

This thread makes me sad. So many people who see so little benefit from our membership of the EU. So much misinformation being bandied around.

Funnily enough, the whole principle of "representative democracy", such as we have in the UK, means that you elect people to office who will act in your interests. If you don't think they're doing so, don't vote for them - vote for someone else. The fact that the EU has changed since we joined in 1973 has been supported by the very people that the British electorate voted for ffs.

I agree that some reform should be made in the EU governance structure, but comments about the Parliament only being able to be the puppet of the Commission, or all our UK taxes going to pay for poorer nations, are frankly just nonsense. The EU costs British taxpayers just €0.75 a day, that's about 50p, and the EU budget has actually dropped as a percentage of GDP in the past few years. Take a look at this for some proper FACTS about the EU and its spending/policies:ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/blog/index_en.htm There are fewer EU civil servants working in Brussels than there are employed by the city of Birmingham for example.

In a way a referendum will be good as at least it will give people the chance to put correct information out there, but I for one would not be happy if we left. As a foreign languages graduate I have been able to fully take advantage of the wonderful opportunities offered to me by the EU, such as studying abroad, living and working abroad, border free travel, cross border shopping - and all of these benefits for me and my family. Membership of the EU goes much further than just agriculture and fisheries....

PetiteRaleuse Wed 23-Jan-13 10:14:20

Ufortunately they all do it.

I am actually pro referendum, as I am confident the Brits will vote to stay in. So why leave it til after the election? why should ie be part of the manifesto? Bblackmailing the country by saying vote me in and you get a voice on the EU is cynical, and the economy will now be even more unstable until the issue is resolved once and for all.

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 10:25:12

Niceguy,

"Lastly we don't need many big businesses to go or many jobs to be affected by import duty before we as a nation have a flipping big problem. Even using your 10%-20% yardstick. Can you imagine the impact to our economy if we lost 10% of our employment or tax revenues?"

Your argument assumes that 100% of companies are threatening to move their HQs. It is probably 10-20% that are threatening, and of that 10-20%, 10-20% will actually move. That makes between 1 and 4%. And you assume that there will be no job creation due to less red tape around employment, free trade with the rest of the world and a far more open agriculture and fisheries sector. You are simply scaremongering.

Amyboo,

"The fact that the EU has changed since we joined in 1973 has been supported by the very people that the British electorate voted for ffs."

The only parties to give us a choice re the EU have been special interest parties such as UKIP, who are not a credible choice. The political parties have collaborated (mainly due to self interest, as I mentioned above) to NOT give the electorate a meaningful say over Europe.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 23-Jan-13 10:27:10

Anyone who thinks there will really be less red tape outside of the EU is deluded.

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 10:28:34

"As a foreign languages graduate I have been able to fully take advantage of the wonderful opportunities offered to me by the EU, such as studying abroad, living and working abroad, border free travel, cross border shopping - and all of these benefits for me and my family. Membership of the EU goes much further than just agriculture and fisheries...."

Well, that must be lovely for you, however you represent a tiny minority of the UK. I have worked with Americans, Canadians, Hong Kong Chinese, South Africans and Zimbabweans during my career in the City. Again, you are scaremongering. Well educated people can nearly always study and work abroad, regardless of being a member of a superstate. You merely need to meet a slightly (and sensibly) higher yardstick. If you are good enough, most nations will welcome you with open arms.

amyboo Wed 23-Jan-13 10:29:24

laniekazan - You might want to check your facts before spouting nonsense like "sadly employees do not seem to be recruited on merit". Have you ever sat one of the competitive exams for the EU institutions? A recent one organised for a general graduate-entry profile had 12,287 candidates of which only 76 get through to the reserve list - even getting this far doesn't mean you get a job. You still then have to go through interviews and selection panels. And you need to speak two languages fluently, plus a third before you can be promoted. The whole system has recently been changed, and is very very closely modelled on the UK civil service recruitment system.

So, if this isn't being recruited on merit, I wonder what is?

As for "no one seems to police them" referring to employee benefits and salaries, the EU civil servants' staff regulations are approved and adapted by all 27 EU member states agreeing unanimously. It seems to me that far from no one policing them, there are rather a lot of people policing them. EU civil servants on the whole benefit from very similar conditions to national government civil servants, and in many cases, (like pensions, working hours) national civil servants do better! Take a look here if you want to get your facts straight: ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/sefcovic/headlines/news/2012/05/2012_05_10_epc_en.htm

amyboo Wed 23-Jan-13 10:31:42

"Well educated people can nearly always study and work abroad, regardless of being a member of a superstate." - so the freedom to live and work abroad should be restricted to those who have been fortunate enough to afford to be able to go to the UK's most prestigious universities then?

willyoulistentome Wed 23-Jan-13 10:33:06

My heart says out. My head says in.

My grandparents were immigrants from Europe to the UK in the '20s so am in no position to complain.. but I feel intra EU immigration is now way out of control, and damaging. I think we get far more of it than other EU countries as everyone learns English at school and coming to the UK is the obvious choice. We get the argument that tighter control would mean UK folks would not be free to go and work abroad so easily. Well I think the balance is wrong there. I think we get far more coming in than going out and the ones going out are either retiring to the sun, and not taking up foreign jobs.. or off further afield...and that we need the tax payments of the in-comers. Well I am sure my local layabout on benefits is just as able to pay tax serving coffee in Starbucks as the Latvian girl currently doing it. I am dreading the next influx of Romanians etc next year.

The issues we have had in my sons school with the numerous Polish who come and soak up TA time because of their lack of English are awful. I do feel my son has had his education adversely affected by this. He does need TA support at school, and has not got it.

This is why my heart says OUT.

HOWEVER. My head says (selfishly) IN because I would very probably lose my job if we were out. I work for a huge well known international company, who would in all likelihood move the HQ out of the UK to France if we were to leave the EU. I am not about to up sticks to France, so I would lose my job, and so would around 400 people I work with. That would be the case with very many companies, and there would be huge job losses. It would cause huge damage to the UK economy, and we would take years and years to get a balance back.

But would it be worth it to take control back and stop the inexorable dilution of british culture, and the drain on services. I do not know.

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 10:34:20

Amy,

No, it should be restricted to those who can contribute a skill to a country that the country needs, be it bricklaying or advanced knowledge of quantum physics. Why should someone who is able to make no contribution to a country be able to live/work where they want?

guineapiglet Wed 23-Jan-13 10:37:47

What worries me, is the last, er , public vote we had on an important issue resulted in a less than 20% turnout - the public were ill informed, and the whole issue of Police Commissioners passed most people by. Chicken and egg - would more people have turned out IF they had been better informed, or are we more widely completely disinterested and disaffected. ( The last general election was another case in point, less than a 40% turnout - can we be relied upon to vote, and if not will the vaccum be filled by an increase in the % of UKIP/BNP etc votes)

We will all have to be so much better informed for this one, whenever it happens, and not condecended to or have the relevant information dumbed down. Many of us are working for, or have worked for companies/organisations which are dependent on EU trade and markets. I could give many examples about the shocking waste of some public monies in Brussels, so we all acknowledge that there has to be reform and exposure of waste. What will happen to the UK if we leave the EU - we need facts and figures so we can work it out FOR OURSELVES - the article posted upthread about Germany was really interesting reading - we need more of them - they need to be balanced, and we need to hear more from ordinary businesses not just politicians so we all have a clear picture of the implications of staying or going.

<goes to put The Clash on cd>

amyboo Wed 23-Jan-13 10:41:56

So you think that before the EU passed numerous laws about recognition of professional qualifications, educational qualifications, the right of family to accompany workers, the right to transfer accumulated healthcare rights, pension etc crossborder, that someone such as a bricklayer could just up sticks and go and work in another country? Wow, you are seriously deluded.

As for your statement, "Why should someone who is able to make no contribution to a country be able to live/work where they want?" - well, for a start if they're working then they will be making a contribution to a country. Secondly, you can move to another country in the EU without working, but you sure as hell won't be able to claim any benefits from that country. If that's the case in the UK, then it is the UK who needs to change their rules. I can safely say from personal experience that in order to claim benefits (healthcare, unemployment benefit, etc) in another EU country you need to have either worked there and therefore contributed to the system or to have been already claiming such benefits in another EU country before you move. You can then transfer your benefit entitlement while you seek work for I think up to 6 or 12 months, during which time the benefit costs are paid by the original country.

In other words, if I claimed income support, unemployment benefit, etc in Poland and then decided to go and seek work in the UK, I could claim my benefits there if I'd been claiming them for at least 6 months in Poland. My benefits could then continue being paid in the UK while I looked for work but the UK would claim the money back from Poland.

turkeyboots Wed 23-Jan-13 10:48:20

I vote in, but the Commission and Parliment need major reform. And I know this as I work with them.

And anyone who things farmers and fishermen will be better off out of Europe are deluded. We have such massive EU subsidys for them mainly thanks to the French who refuse to revise CAP. UK/England alone won't keep up a similiar level of payments when all other budgets are being hugely squeezed. Farmers vs schools or hopsitals would be an interesting deate!

And we've end up with almost no environemntal legislation, as that is all EU driven.

larrygrylls Wed 23-Jan-13 10:50:14

Amy,

"well, for a start if they're working then they will be making a contribution to a country"

No, not necessarily. If you are merely displacing a national citizen who is now unemployed, you are making no net contribution to a country. The thousands of EU people from the east doing low level service jobs in the UK are testamant to this. Sure, they are prepared to work for less money and for poorer employment conditions, contributing wonderfully to the upper middle classes having cheaper nannies and meals out. However, they are competitively lowering salaries and conditions for UK nationals to levels below that which is considered decent in a first world country. This kind of immigration is a big factor in the increasingly bimodal wealth distribution in the UK.

The test for employment for a non UK citizen is that they have to be bringing a skill which is not easily available in the UK (for a reasonable cost). I have completed a lot of those applications for people I have employed in the past. This seems quite reasonable to me.

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.

Viviennemary Wed 23-Jan-13 13:56:56

I would vote to come out of the EU. It would be different if it was just a trade agreement. But it isn't. The union people voted for wasn't what it is today.

MoreBeta Wed 23-Jan-13 13:57:07

Like many people on the thread I severely doubt we will ever actually get the referendum. It has been promised before and didnt HAPPEN.

Why wait for 5 years before we have it?

Surely we could declare the terms on which we intend to stay in the EU, declare the date of the referendum to occur some time before the next general election and then open negotiations with the EU.

Problem is David Cameron has made it clear he does not believe in leaving the EU and knowing that the EU will now simply wait until after the next UK election and refuse to negotiate before then.

In the meantime Cameron will gradually become weaker and weaker and look more and more indecisive. The political uncertainty will be very damaging for the UK economy.

In the end I still think a reason will be found not to have the referendum. Some World crisis will emerge such as the break up of the Euro currency, a general global econOmic depression, War in Africa/Middle East.

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 14:01:01

I agree with that Morebeta. The indecision will not be a good thing for us and another reason why I don't think Cameron & Osbourne are heavy duty enough to lead us through this.

That said, I look over to the other side and fear Miliband & Balls even more. So it's a case of the least worst choice at the moment.

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 14:09:59

larry I posted two very long posts on this thread giving some concrete evidence relating to your statements on regulatory burdens on non-EU manufacturers and the disadvantages they have.

I know what I do is super boring and no one has probably read any of my posts but I'm trying to tell you that far from giving the UK a competitive advantage by freeing our businesses from tonnes of red tape, the UK leaving the EU will have a direct and immediate adverse competitive impact on many businesses here in the UK - not just manufacturers but logistics providers, importers, advertising, retail and legal to name a few off the top of my head.

shakes head and retreats back into lair

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 14:16:59

I just mentioned to a client over lunch about a referendum and what would happen if the UK pulled out. (Electronics manufacturer) He laughed rather nervously and said "don't even say that out loud, that's what keeps me up at night."

elizaregina Wed 23-Jan-13 14:25:05

"UK would claim the money back from Poland."

UK is currenlty heamoraging money for the NHS for NOT claiming back monies owed to the NHS from EU peoples using the NHS. The other EU countries are however very good at claiming back from us when we use one of thier hospitals.

I therefore have no confidence that we are claiming back on other areas from eu states for monies owed.

GlassOfPort Wed 23-Jan-13 14:25:12

I am an EU citizien who has been working in the UK for the last 10 years. If the UK were to leave the EU and force people like me to have visa and work permits, I would seriously consider moving elsewhere and so would a lot of people in my situation.

There are hundreds of thousand of us in London alone, highly educated professionals who pay high tax rates and contribute to the success of many British institutions (I work in a Russel Group University where the vast majority of the research staff are from outside the UK). I really don't think that making our life difficult would do a lot for this country's competitive edge.

retrorobot Wed 23-Jan-13 14:27:08

It is sad that the level of education and public discourse in the U.K. is so low that there are so many people who have so many entrenched misconceptions about the EU and its workings.

The agreement that Norway (and Iceland) has with the EU is called the European Economic Area. The way this works is that Norway gets free movement with the EU and in return Norway agrees to implement ALL of the EU laws in relation to free movement. Note that Norway has NO decision-making on those laws once they are agreed by the EU Norway has to implement them just like any EU member. Note also that the relevant laws in relation to free movement are not just in relation to free trade in goods. They also cover free movement of persons and freedom to provide services, i.e. immigration, so those of you complain about EU immigrants like me who are paying for their council houses and tax credits (while ignoring the enormous amount of immigration into the U.K. from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) are not going to get what you want.

The agreement that Switzerland has with the EU (actually, a set of agreements) but essentially work in the same way and provide for free movement of persons - Swiss into EU countries and EU countries into Switzerland. There is one extra provision which allows Switzerland to TEMPORARILY limit the number of EU workers taking up jobs in Switzerland if Swiss unemployment increases by more than 10 percent in a year compared to the average rate in the previous three years. (News article on this here: http://euobserver.com/social/28100) However, that provision has never been used and would only apply temporarily.

The reasons that Switzerland, Norway and Iceland don't join the EU are in large part because they don't want to be part of the EU's agriculture (Switzerland and Norway) and fisheries (Iceland and Norway) rules.

The EU was willing to agree to the agreements with Norway, Iceland and Switzerland because they are not very large countries and, in the case of Switzerland, road/rail access across Switzerland and the Alps is important to Germany and Italy. However, the EU is not going to agree to free trade in goods or services without free movement of workers.

The unpalatable truth for English people is that the main driver of low skilled low paid immigration (which, in fact, is more from outside Europe than it is from the EU) is tax credits which significantly increase the income of those with children. It's no co-incidence that the rise in this sort of immigration into the U.K. followed from Labour introducing tax credits. The problem of course is that there are huge numbers of English people on these benefits and the EU doesn't let there be one rule for people just because they were born in England and a different rule for others because they were not. It's still remarkable to me that English living in London in council housing at way below market rents complain that they have to compete for work with eastern Europeans who are living in private rented accommodation paying much more in rent.

If England leaves the EU then business in London, which is massively subsidising the rest of the U.K., is going to be decimated. The same will be the case for every car manufacturing plan in the U.K. (auto manufacturing being bright spark in this rececession).

There's plenty wrong with the EU - it's sclerotic decision-making, the grossly overpaid Brussels bureaucrats, the excessive regulation, the has-been politicians. But I'm not sure that the civil servants in Whitehall are much better. However, if you're going to contribute to this debate at least inform yourself about it. Whinging that you want to leave the EU because you've never had a vote to stay in would be like a Scottish person saying that they want to leave the U.K. because they never voted to be part of it.

JoanByers Wed 23-Jan-13 14:29:49

It's a nasty cynical stunt to promise this after the election.

Why don't they hold it next year, prior to a general election in 2015?

torychicetc Wed 23-Jan-13 14:42:15

I dont know how I would vote just now. But I do expect IN to win the eventual vote

trayelroht Wed 23-Jan-13 14:57:18

All 3 major political parties are liars, they have zero intention of giving us a choice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNoJr0rqq54&feature=player_embedded

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 15:48:55

<claps> @ retrorobot & xiaoxiong's detailed posts.

Cockleshell Wed 23-Jan-13 15:59:52

We export such a tiny amount to the EU, meanwhile we are being ruled by Brussels, and contributing huge funding.What ie it doing for us? Not a lot !

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 16:08:16

cockleshell European markets account for half of the UK’s overall trade and foreign investments. 3.5 million jobs in the UK are linked to the export of goods and services to the EU. I got those figures from BIS, they're from 2011.

So yeah, what's it doing for us!!??

somebloke123 Wed 23-Jan-13 16:40:41

xiaoxiong

"Linked to" indeed. You are not suggesting "dependent on" our membership of the EU. See my earlier post about how the 3.5 million figure was arrived at and misused.

thegreylady Wed 23-Jan-13 16:48:56

I would vote to leave we have surrendered too much of our sovereignty to Europe. I can't imagine being able to renegotiate the terms of our membership. So many member states are in deep trouble financially and France and,especially Germany , have a stranglehold on the rest. At the moment it seems as though, having failed to dominate Europe in two wars, Germany is en route to succeeding in 'peace'. We would be well out of it at least for now.

MajesticWhine Wed 23-Jan-13 16:59:01

I would vote "In", but I think the referendum is a daft idea.

JoanByers I guess they can't do it before an election, because the Lib Dems won't agree to a referendum.

The UK signed up to the EU for business reasons not the other rubbish that seems to have taken over. However, retrorobot has made a very good post about why we should stay. Perhaps better the devil you know in the EU's case?

ILikeBirds Wed 23-Jan-13 17:27:07

I don't understand how anyone could say how they would vote as a simple In or Out question?

It's so much more complex than that.

I honestly don't see how you would turn back the clock on EU migrants either, doesn't London have the second largest French population after Paris?

maisiejoe123 Wed 23-Jan-13 17:43:05

Wondering whether we can grade countries differently dependant on their standing in the EU?

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 18:48:33

ILikeBirds I absolutely agree that it's so much more complex than In or Out.

I've tried to introduce some concrete examples from stuff I work with every day that will have massive adverse consequences in many significant areas (product safety, environmental etc) if people vote Out. No one has engaged with any of my examples at all, likely because they are too complicated and boring. But if the problems that will be caused are too complicated or boring, they shouldn't be allowed to be boiled down to an In/Out vote.

somebloke you claim the 3 million jobs figure was reached by one report by an economic research institute, doing work for a pro-EU lobbying group - ie. a report by NIESR in 2000. I have no idea about the soundness of this report. However the link I provided above is from 2010 and references Department from Business, Innovation and Skills data for the figure of 3.5 million jobs, rather than any NIESR report from 10 years previously. So unless we're now going to start second-guessing our own government's trade figures, I stand by the statement that 3.5 million jobs number.

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 18:53:26

In Jan 2012 400,000 UK citizens live permanently in Spain - about the same number as Polish citizens that live in the UK.

150,000 Brits live in France and 100,000 in Germany.

There are 300,000 Germans in the UK and 123,000 French.

data here from ONS and Eurostat

AtoZandbackagain Wed 23-Jan-13 19:06:58

The problem for the UK is that the EU is forging ahead with it's primary aim of 'ever closer union' which ultimately means one country called Europe with one currency, the Euro, one European Government, flag, anthem etc etc etc.

The Lisbon Treaty was a large leap towards this end state when it gave the EU legal personality for the first time i.e. the EU can now do things in it's own name.

So, a vote to stay IN means embracing the move towards 'ever closer union', andgiving even more control to the EU.

It would be great if Britain could renegoiate our membership but why should our fellow EU members agree to Britain having what could be more preferential terms than them? I cannot see Cameron getting any agreement on the Fisheries policy or the CAP or on restoring much of the sovereignity we have given up.

The only bargaining chip Cameron has is the £50 million a day that we pay into the EU.

If we can't get agreement then we have to decide IN or OUT.

legalalien Wed 23-Jan-13 19:07:02

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.

But surely it's increasingly the case - certainly in some policy areas such as financial services - that notwithstanding our membership we have little say in the reasonableness, scope and effect of relevant legislation, particularly as the Commission moves from a Directive approach to a Regulation approach, regulatory bodies become more centralised eg ESMA and once the 2014 changes to qualified majority voting kick in. And in areas covered by maximum harmonisation Directives we don't have the flexibility that you suggest further up the thread.

Xiaoxiong Wed 23-Jan-13 19:19:36

legalalien not in my policy areas. Civil servants and ministers from Defra, BIS, the NMO, the HSE and increasingly DECC are influential in the drafting of those Directives and Regulations. They are then lobbied by business and MPs here in the UK and make amendments and respond to consultations based on our domestic concerns.

We've been working on a recent issue where the French producers of a particular construction material have banded together screaming that the European Commission's regulation of a certain substance via a harmonised directive (ie, one with no scope as you rightly pointed out for MSs to derogate or set different domestic standards) has been set to maximally benefit UK producers and disadvantage French ones and there's nothing the French can do about it. Direct result of a particularly enormous UK construction company's lobbying of the UK government.

So you win some, you lose some - but if you're not in the EU, you never win any except by chance.

legalalien Wed 23-Jan-13 19:29:05

Which i guess emphasises the fact that it's difficult to get a handle on the existing pluses and minuses for the uk, and potential pluses and minuses going forward. Everyone has a view based on their own personal areas of interest, political belief, experiences etc etc. I wish someone could create a giant comprehensive and comprehensible spreadsheet for me to have a look at.

Maybe we could invite an existing third country - eg Canada to join, let them do the analysis and then go with that smile

legalalien Wed 23-Jan-13 19:30:35

Ps those french! I gather they've decided that a free trade agreement with siuth korea is not such a good idea now that french consumers have started buying korean cars in preference to french ones....smile

ThinkAboutItOnBoxingDay Wed 23-Jan-13 19:44:18

Interesting to see what this will do to any future coalition discussions. Seems to me DC just painted himself into a corner. If the. Tories don't win out right it's hard to see the lib dems would enter a coalition with another referendum on a subject so close to their hearts where they disagree with their coalition partners. The electoral reform vote was surely too bruising to forget?

mumzy Wed 23-Jan-13 19:51:00

I think if we have a referedum the turnout will be high because for most people they would base their vote on the single issue that has affected them the most in recent year; the unexpected mass immigration of eastern europeans with the prospect of more from Romania and Hungary. If the government had any effective strategy to reverse and control this they may have some hope of generating enough support from voters to stay in EU but if they are seen as ineffective on this single issue then my feeling is we will vote to get out.

mumzy Wed 23-Jan-13 19:53:29

Think i don't think DC sees himself in coliation with libdems at next election and either do I as I think libdems will be annihilated

MousyMouse Wed 23-Jan-13 20:00:31

absolutely in!

Notquitegrownup Wed 23-Jan-13 20:16:24

In - definitely. I want my children to grow up and feel part of something larger than GB. I have loved travelling/living/working in Europe and feeling that I can be part of a growing generation for whom borders are less and less powerful as lines which separate us from each other. It's a big world out there and anything which reinforces our common humanity, common interests, common standards and expectations seems to me to open up possibilities for the future. Pulling out, battoning down the hatches, keeping to what we have got - even if it means we have a bit more financially (which I doubt would translate into huge gains for the UK, if any) - is not a mentality I want to pass onto the next generation.

fraktion Wed 23-Jan-13 20:17:23

The French have basically just said they'll make special efforts to accommodate (read: give special treatment to) any companies who decide to relocate from the UK over this referendum. Britain's place as the European HQ for many companies would be lost in a flash if that happened.

I hope British citizens resident in the EU will get a vote on this referendum. 99% of them would be voting to stay in because their entire lives are built on the opportunities afforded by free movement. Either that or their host countries will be facing a steep increase in applications for citizenship and the DWP will be facing an administrative nightmare.

IMO there is no realistic way the UK can withdraw and be better off in the short term, and I don't see a strong long term plan. Our only alternative is to create a rival faction and the Commonwealth isn't strong enough.

Instead of fannying around with a referendum which won't happen because there's legal precedent that promises made in one electoral term aren't valid in another I would much rather the UK tightened up the loopholes and applied the same measures other countries do re: healthcare and benefits for EU citizens.

ivykaty44 Wed 23-Jan-13 20:27:26

London is the financial capital of the world because of our timezone (we're slap bang in the middle), our friendly laws AND free access to the EU markets. If we removed that we'd see banks all wanting to establish a new European HQ so they can continue to trade in Euros.

Please come and explain this to me - I don't get why the banks would want to move - we use sterling here anyway?

The same will be the case for every car manufacturing plan in the U.K. (auto manufacturing being bright spark in this rececession). Why will car plants suffer?

Can I also ask why as a country we wouldn't want to trade with other countries outside the EU, if already we have 90% of our trade outside the EU surely finding another 10% of trade to go outside wouldn't be so hard with countries such as china and India?

myrubberduck Wed 23-Jan-13 20:39:49

Eu is popular in Scotland and the scots just do not get their knickers in a twist over Europe the way a sizable number of English apparently do. Scotland is holding its own 'in or out' referendum in 2014. Does anyone seriously think that scots voters will be willing to risk being dragged out of Europe by the likes of Nigel Farrage????

This simply will not have occurred to the Tory backbenchers currently crowing over their 'victory'. I suspect they and UKIP are only dimly conscious of the fact that the United Kingdom consists of 4 countries, not just England

mumzy Wed 23-Jan-13 20:43:14

Fraktion is that the same French which recently hiked up the rate of taxation prompting the rich and famous to flee France

fraktion Wed 23-Jan-13 20:45:15

Indeed. Retaliation for DC saying he'd welcome with open arms anyone who found that unacceptable wink

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 21:03:54

Ivykaty.

The Eurozone is the largest single market in the world. The UK makes up a fair size of that yes....but even without us, it would still be very big.

If the UK was not part of the EU then the banks would have to establish a headquarters in an EU country in order to maintain free trade.

Secondly I suspect banks such as Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas & SocGen will be under massive pressure to move business back into the Eurozone.

As for the cars. the EU slaps import taxes on cars made outside of the EU. So our car exports would be subject to this. The likes of Nissan & Toyota would have more incentive to move to avoid this. After all, the duty is why they built factories in Europe anyway and didn't simply ship them over from Japan in bigger numbers.

As for trade, 52% of our exports go to other EU countries, not 10%.

It just makes NO sense to me. To want to leave because we want to be independent. But then to sign up to be an outsider who has to obey the rules but not have a voice in making them. It's just crazy.

Right now we're one of the core members albeit an awkward one. But Germany is actually more onside with us than France usually is and an Anglo-German alliance would to me be a more logical way forward. France would LOVE it if we left. They'd suck up to the German's in a heartbeat.

retrorobot Wed 23-Jan-13 21:10:28

"London is the financial capital of the world because of our timezone (we're slap bang in the middle), our friendly laws AND free access to the EU markets. If we removed that we'd see banks all wanting to establish a new European HQ so they can continue to trade in Euros.

Please come and explain this to me - I don't get why the banks would want to move - we use sterling here anyway?"

ivykaty44: International banks are in London because:

- Under EU financial services rules a bank in London can lend to a business borrower anywhere in the EU or an investment manager in London can have as clients companies anywhere in the EU. This is under EU rules on freedom to provide services. If the U.K. leaves the EU then those rules will no longer apply. International banks are going to establish their European HQs in the EU instead - I expect some will go to Paris, some to Dublin, some maybe somewhere else.

- The EU rules on free movement of workers mean that they can easily employ in London people from any EU country. Most non-admin staff in international banks in London are not from the U.K. Unfortunately, because of the poor education system / general laziness, non enough British people can speak French/German/Italian etc. with sufficient fluency and not enough of them have the educational standards to do the complex work, never mind work the long hours involved.

"Can I also ask why as a country we wouldn't want to trade with other countries outside the EU, if already we have 90% of our trade outside the EU surely finding another 10% of trade to go outside wouldn't be so hard with countries such as china and India?"

ivykaty44: 90% of the U.K.'s trade is not outside the EU. That figure is generated by the anti-EU bunch saying 80% of U.K. trade is internal, e.g. you buy a piece of beef that is the product of a bullock raised and butchered in the U.K. But foreign trade is vital.

Roughly half of the U.K.'s exports go to other EU countries. A bit more of the U.K.'s imports come from other EU countries. China and India are much less important - in 2011 the U.K. exported more to Belgium alone than it did to China and India put together. The anti-EU bunch will say the U.K. imports more from the rest of the EU than it exports, so it is better off without that trade. That is utter rubbish. First, the U.K.'s total imports are, and have been for many years, more than its exports - it's not just with the EU that the U.K. runs a trade deficit. For example, in 2011 for ever £1 of goods the U.K. exported to China the U.K. imported £3 of goods from China. For many many goods geographical proximity matters as shipping costs are too high.

Here is a link to the 2011 figures for U.K. exports and imports with different countries:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/feb/24/uk-trade-exports-imports

roastchicken Wed 23-Jan-13 21:16:56

I can't believe what Cameron has done. He comes across like a petulant schoolboy in a public school debating society. This is all for his party and not for the country.

I like in London. Most of my work is connected with Europe as is most of the work of my friends. London is the most European city in the Eurozone, and subsidises the rest of the UK, which without London is mostly a relatively poor country. Severing ties with the largest trading partner due to some deluded visions of former national grandeur is hardly in the interests of the country. In terms of waste - I would guess that he is committed to spending massively more on international development than Britain commits to the EU. Also, Britain's welfare system is hardly a model of efficiency. I really don't see what there is to gain from leaving but there seems that a hell of a lot could be lost.

This reminds me of the experience of Montreal. In the 1970s, it was the most important Canadian city. Then they elected a party which wished to make Montreal more 'Quebecois' - more french-speaking. The result - exit of businesses and relative economic decline.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal

Oblomov Wed 23-Jan-13 21:17:48

I think we will never get a referendum.
I need to see hard facts and figures about he EU. But I fear I will never be given them.
I know you are all going to HATE the fact that I am about to do a Daily Mail link, but has anyone ever read the Christopher Booker (who also writes for the Telegraph) book on the EU? Does he have any valid points? I supect he has.
He implies that we have ben tricked into what was the Common Market, into he EU, into what was always intended to be a Superstate, leaving us with minimal power.
EU

Oblomov Wed 23-Jan-13 21:24:25

I do still believe that because we have been in the EU so long, we are so inter-twined that it is almost impossible for us to leave.
I just can't see us being able to leave. Even if we wanted to.
I resent the power we have lost, to the EU. The making of laws and dominating us so much. But then thats is our nature. We are so British. We abide by the laws, yes sir, no sir. It would appear that the french are much more selective about what they abide to.
Or is that just my misconception?

flatpackhamster Wed 23-Jan-13 21:27:38

retrorobot

ivykaty44: International banks are in London because:

- Under EU financial services rules a bank in London can lend to a business borrower anywhere in the EU or an investment manager in London can have as clients companies anywhere in the EU. This is under EU rules on freedom to provide services. If the U.K. leaves the EU then those rules will no longer apply. International banks are going to establish their European HQs in the EU instead - I expect some will go to Paris, some to Dublin, some maybe somewhere else.

The banks were in London before the EU decided to meddle in the financial services sector. They won't budge. There's a cachet about London which - despite its best efforts - Paris simply doesn't have.

- The EU rules on free movement of workers mean that they can easily employ in London people from any EU country. Most non-admin staff in international banks in London are not from the U.K. Unfortunately, because of the poor education system / general laziness, non enough British people can speak French/German/Italian etc. with sufficient fluency and not enough of them have the educational standards to do the complex work, never mind work the long hours involved.

Of course, what's often ignored by the pro-EU lot is that if the UK left the EU, people wouldn't suddenly stop being allowed to work here. So even if we pretend (in an imaginary world) that the standard of graduates is so poor in the UK that banks can't find the skilled, multi-language-speaking graduates they need, EU workers could still come here.

It's just that we could pick and choose who came, instead of (as of next year) receiving a million unskilled Romanians and Bulgarians.

ivykaty44: 90% of the U.K.'s trade is not outside the EU. That figure is generated by the anti-EU bunch saying 80% of U.K. trade is internal, e.g. you buy a piece of beef that is the product of a bullock raised and butchered in the U.K. But foreign trade is vital.

Yes, and the world is rather bigger than the provincials in Brussels would have you believe.

Roughly half of the U.K.'s exports go to other EU countries. A bit more of the U.K.'s imports come from other EU countries. China and India are much less important - in 2011 the U.K. exported more to Belgium alone than it did to China and India put together.

And in 30 years time, the EU will comprise 10% of the global economy rather than 20%. It's a backwater, and we shouldn't be shackling ourselves to this crippled, cumbersome superstate.

The anti-EU bunch will say the U.K. imports more from the rest of the EU than it exports, so it is better off without that trade.

That isn't what they say at all. Excellent strawman, though.

roastchicken Wed 23-Jan-13 21:28:25

Oblomov - you're totally right and the Evening Standard's business columnist has made the same point. Britain tends to apply all laws to the letter, and complain about them, whilst the French ignore those they disagree with. A bit more pragmatism would go a long way.

ivykaty44 Wed 23-Jan-13 21:30:10

Thank you both for answering the first question, niceguy I really wanted an answer to the second question as well?

retrorobot - sorry but I want to know why we don't look for other trade outside the EU, you have told me figures of what we do trade etc (I got the 10% form this thread somewhere further back and sorry I don't know where or who said it - but it obviously stuck in my head!)but not why we wouldn't look for more trade outside the EU, there is trade to be had as both the countries I know are going to grow and will look to import - so why don't we look to do that importing?

I am not picking by the way I do want to know, having trouble picking through the mess of literature that is out there.

The other thing that really worries me is stopping from being a democracy, as we just don't get to vote on EU, just our own country elections

Pan Wed 23-Jan-13 21:32:58

In. We are Europeans, or nothing, in the future. Just a small, cold set of islands who don't grasp the significance of a large set of other peoples who we trade with and benefit from.

Cameron is scared by UKIP. Doesn't mean the rest of us have to be.

roastchicken Wed 23-Jan-13 21:33:07

If the EU is a backwater what is Britain? Europe is a more important trading partner to the UK than vice versa.

If Britain quits, will the EU really give it preferential status e.g. on the bits that Cameron likes? Or are they likely to treat it as an insular pariah that they wouldn't give the time of day to?

flatpackhamster Wed 23-Jan-13 21:33:47

roastchicken

Oblomov - you're totally right and the Evening Standard's business columnist has made the same point. Britain tends to apply all laws to the letter, and complain about them, whilst the French ignore those they disagree with. A bit more pragmatism would go a long way.

So you think we should actively ignore the laws our Parliament has ratified?

Does that make us 'good Europeans', like the French?

flatpackhamster Wed 23-Jan-13 21:36:55

roastchicken

If the EU is a backwater what is Britain? Europe is a more important trading partner to the UK than vice versa.

This year, maybe. In 10 years time, the money will be flowing east to China. In 20, Brazil and 30 India.

If Britain quits, will the EU really give it preferential status e.g. on the bits that Cameron likes? Or are they likely to treat it as an insular pariah that they wouldn't give the time of day to?

Given the devastating impact of the trade wars over the next decade, I suspect that the EU (read Germany) will be grateful for all the trade it can get. Since Germany pays for the social welfare programs of the idler nations to its south, they'll have to put up or shut up.

alemci Wed 23-Jan-13 21:37:10

I totally agree Fraction. Is it just us who are allowing the Romanians and Bulgarians free movement into the UK.

It is a crazy state of affairs when we have high unemployment and are trying to reduce the deficit.

I don't see why it has to be 'in or out'. It would be good if there was a shake-up of the EU. I call it the Hokey-Cokey option.

grin

<< lowers the tone of a high-brow discussion>>

lunar1 Wed 23-Jan-13 22:06:54

As it stands today I would vote out. We are supposed to be a democracy, yet I am 32 and have never voted on any of the decisions made by the eu. I have never voted for any of our representatives in the eu. How does that fit with democracy?

I also see people fighting for jobs, how will it help the people in the uk today when the floodgates are opened at the end of the year?

WidowWadman Wed 23-Jan-13 22:16:17

lunar "be a democracy, yet I am 32 and have never voted on any of the decisions made by the eu. I have never voted for any of our representatives in the eu. How does that fit with democracy?"

Why do you not vote in European elections?

Smudging Wed 23-Jan-13 22:56:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mumzy Wed 23-Jan-13 22:58:50

Does anyone know whether DCs promise a referendum is legally binding on the Tories winning the next election

lunar1 Wed 23-Jan-13 23:01:18

No widow never! I've never had a ballot paper for one, should I have?

vadus Wed 23-Jan-13 23:06:58

alemci
Is it just us who are allowing the Romanians and Bulgarians free movement into the UK.

Not true: ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=508&langId=en

GrimmaTheNome Wed 23-Jan-13 23:15:55

My expectation is that the Scottish referendum will be 'stay in' and so will the EU one - although it does depend on exactly what negotiations yield and how the eurozone is going.

The eurozone - if it doesn't disintegrate - needs to integrate further which means that non-euro countries will inevitably be on a different footing. There have to be negotiations about the relationships with an increasingly federal eurozone.

vadus Wed 23-Jan-13 23:19:58

lunar1
I have never voted for any of our representatives in the eu. ... I've never had a ballot paper for one, should I have?

Are you a British or EU citizen resident in the UK? If so, then yes.
See www.europarl.org.uk/view/en/european_elections_in_the_uk.html
and www.europarl.org.uk/view/en/european_elections_in_the_uk/Can_I_Vote.html

Harriet35 Wed 23-Jan-13 23:34:55

I would definately vote OUT. I think Labour are massively out of touch with their voters on the issue of Europe. The majority of their voters want to leave Europe but aren't prepared to vote Tory because of it. But some people will be.

niceguy2 Wed 23-Jan-13 23:40:54

@Ivykaty. Your second question was about cars yes? I thought I answered that.

I cannot see why the EU would let us cherry pick the parts we like and not comply with the parts we don't. It would just send totally the wrong signals to the other 26 member states who would then want to be able to cherry pick their rules.

The problem I see is that the 'no' voters will vote that way because of two reasons:

1) They think UK has enough immigrants and it should stop.
2) That we spend billions and all we get in return are complex stifling rules.

What I fear they won't consider is that as members of the EU we actually benefit massively from free trade with other EU members and that in reality most of the rules we'd have anyway. There may be a nip & tuck here & there but at the end of the day we won't simply scrap every EU directive.

vadus Wed 23-Jan-13 23:48:31

AtoZandbackagain
The problem for the UK is that the EU is forging ahead with it's primary aim of 'ever closer union' which ultimately means one country called Europe with one currency, the Euro, one European Government, flag, anthem etc etc etc.

Esperanto speakers also have a flag and an anthem. Maybe they're out to get us too?

retrorobot Thu 24-Jan-13 00:23:21

ivykaty, to answer your question, and also address flatpackhamster's reply to my earlier posting:

The talk of the U.K. focusing on its trading relationship with China and India rather than on the EU is based on a wholly simplistic understanding of how international trade works.

An example: Honda makes cars in the U.K. Some of those cars are sold in the U.K. Most are sold elsewhere in the EU Those cars are not going to be sold to India or China because it is too expensive to ship the cars to India or China. Even ignoring the shipping costs, India and China have very restrictive trade barriers - massive tax on imported cars. Any car manufacturer selling mass market cars is expected to set up manufacturing in India or China, at least as to 70-80% of production. These countries have the clout to do that and the U.K.'s negotiating position against such one-sided trade barriers will be a lot less when it is on its own rather than part of the EU.

Most companies manufacturing in the U.K. are manufacturing for a world market but the U.K. is not their only or their main manufacturing base. Companies aren't in the position of saying that rather than sell widgets to businesses in other EU countries they'll sell them to businesses in India and China - companies would like to sell the widgets everywhere - as many as possible.

In any case, as I said in an earlier post, the free trade argument is a bit of a distraction, because a lot of the anti-EU views are based on antipathy towards immigrants from other EU countries who come to the U.K. The two points that need to be said on this (which I touched on in my earlier posts) are:

(1) TAX CREDITS

(i) Pro-migrants say migrants come to work, not get benefits - they aren't able to just come here and claim unemployment
(ii) Anti-migrants say migrants come to get benefits
BOTH SIDES ARE RIGHT IN WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

Migrants do work, but the crazy tax credits system means that if you work your income will be topped up very significantly. So the migrants are doing work, but they are also getting tax credit, which is technically not benefits, but makes them much better off. And of course, there aren't that many British people to do the work because lots of them are better off only doing 16 or 20 or 30 hours because anything more is effectively taxed at 100% as they lose an equal amount of tax credits.

Tax credits are a really bad idea for many other reasons, but the point is that low paid, low skilled migration, not just from the EU, but from elsewhere as well, started after tax credits were introduced. Tax credits were a Labour Party "bribe" to their core voters. The rest of us are paying the price (except for the betting shops who are taking in plenty of money as a result of them).

(2) IMMIGRATION FROM OUTSIDE THE EU

Between 2000 and 2011 the number of people in the U.K. born in the Indian sub-continent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan) increased by over 550,000. That's at least 50,000 people a year over 11 years (the figure is likely larger as it assumes that everyone from those countries in the U.K. in 2000 is still alive and in the U.K. in 2011). Maybe the U.K. should focus on stopping that migration, which it can do easily.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign-born_population_of_the_United_Kingdom#Countries_of_origin

One thing to remember is that right now any British person going to another EU country has the same rights as someone coming to the U.K. For example, there are now proportionately more British people in Ireland than there are Irish people in the U.K. However, if you as a British person try to move to India or China you will not find it so easy. For example, you won't be able to buy a house without being a citizen and it will be virtually impossible for you to get citizenship.

Do you really think that British people have more in common with Indians and Chinese than they do with people from other EU countries. DH is from Malta. The WHOLE of Malta was awarded the George Cross during the Second World War in the words of King George VI: "to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history". I would remind you that Singapore and Hong Kong fell to the Japanese but even while the Maltese lived on a quarter of the U.K. rations they did not surrender. My children go to school with the grandchildren of Polish men who flew with the RAF during the Battle of Britain. Britain has friends in the EU if it knows where to look for them.

Harriet35 Thu 24-Jan-13 00:36:52

"One thing to remember is that right now any British person going to another EU country has the same rights as someone coming to the U.K"
What country can British people go to where they can earn £800-£1000 a week for working in a supermarket or factory or picking vegetables? There's no incentive for normal British people to work abroad.

AliceCrowley Thu 24-Jan-13 00:38:28

Any referendum will be pre-determined by those who manipulate the newspaper reading classes.
If you consider the rubbish and lies they use to stir up resentment against the Human Rights Act, it's pretty easy to guess which way it would go.

PariahHairy Thu 24-Jan-13 00:42:01

I would vote out, but that is just because I like change, change is good.

vadus Thu 24-Jan-13 00:42:24

Harriet35

I think Labour are massively out of touch with their voters on the issue of Europe. The majority of their voters want to leave Europe but aren't prepared to vote Tory because of it. But some people will be.

All three main parties were committed to continued British membership of the EU at the last election, and between them they had the overwhelming support of the electorate at the ballot box. This has been the case for decades; parties that have promised an EU exit in their manifestos (UKIP, BNP) were and still are fringe parties. So it's not entirely true that we've never had any say on EU membership, even though it seems that way to many people.

I do think that the EU has a democratic legitimacy problem, but that has more to do with the fact that hardly anybody takes part in European elections or shows an interest in European politics, most people don't know anything about European institutions, EU political processes are intransparent and European politics is ignored and goes unscrutinised by the media. This creates an environment where bad decision-making and corruption can go unchecked, and politicians can blame the EU for their own failings (which isn't to say that the EU doesn't have failings).

I think the solution is to reform EU institutions and promote better understanding and scrutiny of them, and not to hold constant pointless referendums about every EU treaty as some people seem to think.

A straight in-out referendum might be a positive thing if it leads to a proper informed debate about the EU, and Britain's role in Europe (and the world); and if it acts as a catalyst for reform.

But I do think that Cameron has promised the referendum for party-political reasons: He sees UKIP as a threat to his hopes of winning a majority at the next election, and the referendum promise as a way of warding it off. It's pretty sordid to gamble with the UKs future for reasons of electoral tactics.

retrorobot Thu 24-Jan-13 00:44:14

Harriet35: Who are "normal British people". The unskilled and uneducated?

- Many hundreds of thousands of British people are living and working elsewhere in the EU and have been for years. You don't know them because you're in the U.K. and, I'm guessing, don't work in a globalised industry.

- There's no incentive for unskilled and uneducated British people to go abroad because the tax credits system in the U.K. gives them so much. Get rid of tax credits and British people will have to take cleaning jobs rather than sit at home and watch Trisha.

vadus Thu 24-Jan-13 01:08:40

Harriet35
There's no incentive for normal British people to work abroad.

"711,151 UK citizens were living in other EU countries in 2011, says Eurostat."
(www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20448450)

Some go to work in other EU countries, others to study or to spend their retirement. It's not clear that these opportunities would remain open to us if we left the EU. I think these freedoms are a good thing for British citizens, and it's only reasonable that they should be based on a measure of reciprocity.

retrorobot

I think you may be slightly overestimating the effect of tax credits on the whole migration issue.

flatpackhamster Thu 24-Jan-13 08:23:29

retrorobot

The talk of the U.K. focusing on its trading relationship with China and India rather than on the EU is based on a wholly simplistic understanding of how international trade works.

These countries have the clout to do that and the U.K.'s negotiating position against such one-sided trade barriers will be a lot less when it is on its own rather than part of the EU.

What a simplistic understanding you seem to have.

What's the guarantee that the EU's negotiating position will be in the UK's national interest? Not much point in having a strong negotiating position to sell X to China if we're going to be undercut by a multinational whose head office is in Luxembourg and whose factory has moved to Slovakia.

As it stands the UK has no right to negotiate unilaterally with another country. Any and all trade agreements must be carried out by the EU.

Most companies manufacturing in the U.K. are manufacturing for a world market but the U.K. is not their only or their main manufacturing base.

Remarkable claim.

Companies aren't in the position of saying that rather than sell widgets to businesses in other EU countries they'll sell them to businesses in India and China - companies would like to sell the widgets everywhere - as many as possible.

That's quite a tower of cards you're building here.

In any case, as I said in an earlier post, the free trade argument is a bit of a distraction, because a lot of the anti-EU views are based on antipathy towards immigrants from other EU countries who come to the U.K.

What a lovely way to dismiss the people who disagree with you. Their views on trade don't matter because they're just a bunch of darkie-hating plebs.

Between 2000 and 2011 the number of people in the U.K. born in the Indian sub-continent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan) increased by over 550,000. That's at least 50,000 people a year over 11 years (the figure is likely larger as it assumes that everyone from those countries in the U.K. in 2000 is still alive and in the U.K. in 2011). Maybe the U.K. should focus on stopping that migration, which it can do easily.

2/3 of the migration was from EU nations. I don't disagree that the Labour government should have stopped that migration, and we now know that it didn't solely so that it could boost votes for the Labour party - a vicious act of cynical manipulation which, even given Labour's extraordinary record of wickedness and mendacity, is hard to beat.

One thing to remember is that right now any British person going to another EU country has the same rights as someone coming to the U.K. For example, there are now proportionately more British people in Ireland than there are Irish people in the U.K. However, if you as a British person try to move to India or China you will not find it so easy. For example, you won't be able to buy a house without being a citizen and it will be virtually impossible for you to get citizenship.

That would work fine, if the living conditions and job markets were the same across the EU. They aren't. That means that your level playing field really isn't anything of the sort. How many British workers are going to head to Poland? Far fewer than have come the other way.

Further, because English is the global lingua franca, we in the UK are in the unique position of being the likely recipient of migrants from every nation. How many Spaniards learn Polish? How many Czechs learn Swedish? But everyone learns English.

Do you really think that British people have more in common with Indians and Chinese than they do with people from other EU countries. DH is from Malta. The WHOLE of Malta was awarded the George Cross during the Second World War in the words of King George VI: "to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history". I would remind you that Singapore and Hong Kong fell to the Japanese but even while the Maltese lived on a quarter of the U.K. rations they did not surrender. My children go to school with the grandchildren of Polish men who flew with the RAF during the Battle of Britain. Britain has friends in the EU if it knows where to look for them.

It's perfectly possible to be friends with a country without being ruled by Brussels. Stop trying to conflate Europe and the EU. It's a lazy trick that all Europhiles try.

DontmindifIdo Thu 24-Jan-13 08:37:23

Harriet35 - i assume you've never been to Luxembourg, pretty much everyone working in the banking industry isn't a Luxembourger! there's a huge British and Irish community, as well as large numbers of Germans and French working there. DH worked there for years. Then he worked for a multinational in Germany, they had so many British staff in their Dusseldorf office they made the official work language English and every local wanting to work there had to accept every formal meeting would be conducted in English (and no, the parent company wasn't British or American).

There's a lot of things currently wrong with the EU and the benefits shouldn't be a reason not to look at the current set up and try to improve it for us, but just because we've are more likely to see the down sides doesn't mean there aren't upsides. There's a good case that at the moment the balance might have tipped towards more downsides than upsides, but that's an argument for improving our relationship with the EU, not scrapping it.

larrygrylls Thu 24-Jan-13 09:01:46

This is one of those debates where greater knowledge does not allow one to come to a better conclusion. It is an area where so called "expertise" has very little meaning.

Nassim Taleb:

"Not all experts deserve the title

Taleb also questions the authority of experts, asserting that the truth behind science is limited to certain areas and methods. In many areas having an academic degree and presenting oneself as a scientist is irrelevant. Indeed, authority can stifle empirical experience which, so many times, has proven to have a sounder basis for accuracy."

All the "expert" bankers and CEOs thought the greatest threat in 1999 was the "Millennium bug". None of them considered the massive overvaluation of tech stocks and the resulting misallocation of resources as a meaningful threat to global prosperity. In 2007 all the banking CEOs considered the greatest threat to be the lack of trading volatility and investment opportunities to be the most important threat. None seriously considered the overvaluation and fraud implicit in the securitisation of real estate assets.

Thus, take with a HUGE pinch of salt what CEOs and other experts tell you about the risks of leaving Europe. None have substantially more of a clue than you or me. Ultimately the best basis to decide this kind of question is political rather than economic. Normally when nation states have a good idea of who they are and are united in that view, economic prosperity follows.

VenusRising Thu 24-Jan-13 09:41:19

I'm all for staying in the EU.
And I agree with Xiaoxioing, if we leave business becomes bogged down in compliance checking.
What business can afford such time and money to check every shipment of goods?
We would end up with a small, no, tiny domestic market, as the economy shrank and then shrinks some more.

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.

We would still have to comply with fishing quotas, and these would be rigorously enforced by the EUs vessels, and it would be just such a headache to transport any goods and services.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about how beneficial the EU has been, especially in environmental and labour law, to everyone within its borders, as it runs so seamlessly. I doubt any country would have been able to do as much for their populace as individual states as pollution knows no boundaries, and the will sometimes isn't there for long term planning and enforcement.

Statutory paid maternity leave, with the promise of being employed afterwards has helped women return to the workforce after having babies, and health and safety legislation wouldn't exist if it weren't for the EU. How can we, as women who have benefited from these laws vote to have an unregulated and precarious situation again, like they have in the US and elsewhere- no guarantees, and a few weeks maternity leave.

A lot of people are reading the tabloids and soaking up their xenophobic bile as gospel, that is if they aren't swallowing some crackpot conspiracy theory. UKIP are polishing up their jackboots in glee.

I think Cameron has put his foot in it, and has had his hand forced to make good on an ill advised election promise (one he made to appear harder than UKIP) I think this will backfire on him, as it will alienate any reasonable person who may be induced to vote for him again (if there is anyone left in that category...)

Time to recognise that we have a lot to offer the EU, and that by cutting ourselves out, we will be out in the expensive and much reduced cold. Economically it would be suicide.

NC78 Thu 24-Jan-13 10:17:08

"There's no incentive for unskilled and uneducated British people to go abroad because the tax credits system in the U.K. gives them so much. Get rid of tax credits and British people will have to take cleaning jobs rather than sit at home and watch Trisha."

The people in cleaning jobs are usually on tax credits because their wages are too low to live on. Get rid of tax credits and watch people go hungry.

NC78 Thu 24-Jan-13 10:18:30

I would vote IN btw

Really cynical move by Cameron to avoid losing votes to UKIP.

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.

larrygrylls Fri 25-Jan-13 08:55:22

""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. "

Ummm, why are you are agreeing with a point whilst saying it is a fallacy? Those businesses operating domestically and those only trading with non EU countries would not be governed by EU rules. Cannot see that you disagree with that.

"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. "

Eh?? There is a huge difference between actively negotiating in a countries' favour and bankrupting it. Germany may keep the UK very happily as a pet and useful export market, as a lot of the European media would argue it has done with the rest of Europe. Keep the Euro exchange rate at way too low a level for the virtual DM whilst way too high for the virtual Lire, Peseta etc. That way, German exports can rule the World whilst the rest of Europe cannot make FX adjustments to aid their competitiveness. Look at how Germany has performed relative to the rest of Europe since the introduction of the Euro. And look at the exchange rate movements (and accounting shenanigans) just before the Euro became a single currency. Everything favoured Germany.

flatpackhamster Fri 25-Jan-13 09:54:14

niceguy2

Manufacturing industries create wealth. Services tend to shift money around rather than add real value.

No they don't. Financial services might, but services covers everything that isn't manufacturing. If I get paid for doing a job, even if I didn't build something, that's still creating wealth.

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!

An issue we could have shrugged off if Gordon Brown hadn't spent the next 30 years of tax money buying votes in Scotland by 'rescuing' his failed banks, but that's another matter.

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!

How? This claim comes up time and time again, but how would it be harder? By what process does being outside the EU create difficulties for manufacturers?

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.

I didn't mention that. Perhaps someone else did.

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?

I'd like Parliament - my elected representatives to have the right to choose rather than having those laws imposed on them. If people want a working time directive, they should be able to petition Parliament for it. But saying that we shouldn't leave the EU because it makes some laws you happen to like smacks of dictatorship.

vadus

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

No, Tourism relies on tourists, who would still come to the UK if we were outside the EU. They're not coming here because we're in the EU, they're coming here because the UK is a great place to visit. We're outside Schengen, so they still need to show their passports. That wouldn't change if we were outside the EU.

And like it or not, the UK's service industry has benefited considerably from cheap labour from the eastern EU member states.

Some aspects certainly have. Whether or not that's comfort to the 2 million unskilled workers unable to find a job because of that uncontrollable flood of cheap labour, I don't know. Nobody seems to care about them, what with them being poor and undereducated and unskilled and largely invisible.

So the question is whether the penalties of unlimited migration from poorer EU states is worth the benefits to businesses. I suspect that in the long run, it won't be.

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.

Actually, no. The EU creates monopolies when it intervenes in markets. Agriculture, fisheries, telecoms, aerospace, defence are good examples. The way it works is this: The Commission decides that it wants to make laws about X. It invites the representatives of the large businesses who do X and asks them what sort of laws they want. The large businesses choose the laws (with the EU) which create an artificial monopoly which squeezes out smaller competitors.

Monopolies are always bad for consumers. Adam Smith wrote:
“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

niceguy2 Fri 25-Jan-13 10:24:02

but how would it be harder? By what process does being outside the EU create difficulties for manufacturers?

I gave a good example earlier. If we totally left the single market then the cars produced here would be hit with import duty. Given most of the cars made in the UK are exported that would have a huge impact.

My point regarding laws goes back to my overall argument which is that the EU has laws which are both in our interests and those which we'd rather not have.

But that's the same the world over. If you ask me personally if I agree with all UK laws, I could point many out which I think are useless. Someone else would pick different ones. BUT what I can't do is cherry pick. And that's what we're doing. We're going around saying "We don't like this law...and that one. We might leave unless you let us disregard those laws."

What I'd rather we did was simply "We don't like this law because of these reasons....we've also spoken to the other 26 countries and x number of them also think it's unfair.....it needs to change"

somebloke123 Fri 25-Jan-13 10:43:40

Vadus

I'm aware of the various constitutional points you mentioned. Of course there are both elected and non-elected people in our constitution, both legislature and executive and of course there are many anachronisms which we wouldn't introduce if we were starting again from scratch, which we are not.

The 2 key points I think are these:

1. Whatever the voting rules and electoral system may be in place for the farce that is the EU Parliament, the EU cannot be democratic. It cannot be a democracy.

To have a democracy you have to have by definition a demos. A people, as in "we the people". In a democracy there has to be enough feeling of cohesion and homogeneity for a majority vote (whatever the electoral system) to be generally accepted as legitimate. In a democracy the vote may go against my hopes and be against my interests but I am prepared to accept it. Of course in all real democracies there will be strains and tensions, for example Thatcher's introduction of the poll tax in Scotland.

There is not and cannot be a European demos. The disparities in language and culture are too massive.

2. When this country was bounced into the Common Market in 1972 by Heath we were assured that it was just that - a market. Similarly in the 1975 referendum. Heath claimed mendaciously that there would "no essential loss of sovereignty" then years later admitted to Peter Sissons on air that he had lied.

People who were actually paying attention knew differently and such people were spread across the political spectrum (Enoch Powell, Peter Shore, Tony Benn) but the British people were given to understand that it was just an economic thing, not the supranational government it has become.

This supranational government has been but in place by lies and subterfuge and that, together with the fact that Europe cannot be a democracy is why I object to being governed at that level.

Monopolies are always bad for consumers.
Nope, not true. Economists consider that natural monopolies can exist (IIRC Smith wrote it something about the singularity of soil(?)). These are monopolies where competition is less efficient than a monopoly because economies of scale can never be fully exploited. This is especially true where there would be network duplication (rail, postal services, roads). Gas and water were used as examples by JS Mill. Don't forget the European Commission's Competition Commission intervenes in concentrated markets to produce a better outcome for the consumer.

You are correct to consider the role of lobbying in decision making but that's not something unique to law making in the EU (Ecclestone and Labour with F1 cigarette advertising, Jeremy Hunt and Newscorp are two examples that sprint to mind).

legalalien Fri 25-Jan-13 10:55:05

niceguy2 there would have to be a big readjustment, but surely it's the case that the uk would hit car imports from the eu with a similar or higher tariff, so that there would be some corresponding reduction in imports from the EU? I know e have recently changed from being a net importer to a net exporter from the eu, but still? Also, don't we need to consider whether or not the eu would be prepared to enter into a free trade arrangement, which depends on the overall trade picture?

One thing this thread is bringing home to me is that I need to make more of an issue to consider all the issues in a more systematic way. Does anyone know of a non- partisan list of "brexit issues for dummies" out there on the interweb? Or do i just work my way through the subheadings on europa.eu over the next few years. smile

legalalien Fri 25-Jan-13 10:58:06

That would be, "more of an effort".

I think that some people do believe there is a european demos (ie lots of lawyers i have met who hang out with each other and discussion european law). I am unconvinced.

flatpackhamster Fri 25-Jan-13 16:27:31

niceguy2

I gave a good example earlier. If we totally left the single market then the cars produced here would be hit with import duty. Given most of the cars made in the UK are exported that would have a huge impact.

mm, but that's not the same, is it, as leaving the EU? You're being disingenuous. I know that it's a popular refrain from those who are in favour of EU membership that the EU would throw up trade barriers against Britain, but frankly they can't afford to. How many jobs would it cost them to achieve that modest political victory?

Incidentally, don't know whether you knew, but thanks to our membership of the EU, major car manufacturers have been closing their plants over here for years. Ford closed Dagenham and Southampton and moved all production to Spain and Slovakia. Car production continues to decline, and production is being moved to cheaper EU nations.

So it's not as though the EU is a panacea on this matter. Skilled manufacturing jobs are being lost thanks to it.

My point regarding laws goes back to my overall argument which is that the EU has laws which are both in our interests and those which we'd rather not have.

And you brushed over my point again, which is that it should be up to our elected representatives in Parliament to decide on our laws. I don't want a country who has no interest in Britain's wellbeing (and the EU is a country now, it has legal status) making Britain's laws. That's fundamentally at odds with the essence of representative democracy.

I haven't seen a single good argument from the Better Off In lot that deals with this democratic deficit. The argument is always "We'll fix it once we're in." But we've had 40 years, and it's still not fixed - and a cynic might begin to suspect that something was amiss there.

But that's the same the world over. If you ask me personally if I agree with all UK laws, I could point many out which I think are useless. Someone else would pick different ones. BUT what I can't do is cherry pick. And that's what we're doing. We're going around saying "We don't like this law...and that one. We might leave unless you let us disregard those laws."

The difference is that if you don't like a law produced by Parliament, you have a recourse to get it changed. It is a long and difficult process but it is achievable. You can petition parliament. Get the signatures you need, and your cause can be debated there.

That isn't the case for the EU. CAP reform has always stumbled, for example, because of the hidebound refusal of the French to be 'good Europeans'. You have no recourse to change the laws the Commission lays down.

What I'd rather we did was simply "We don't like this law because of these reasons....we've also spoken to the other 26 countries and x number of them also think it's unfair.....it needs to change"

And then France vetoes it, and we're no further forward.

flatpackhamster Fri 25-Jan-13 16:29:14

egalalien

One thing this thread is bringing home to me is that I need to make more of an issue to consider all the issues in a more systematic way. Does anyone know of a non- partisan list of "brexit issues for dummies" out there on the interweb? Or do i just work my way through the subheadings on europa.eu over the next few years. smile

Well if all you want to read is pro-EU propaganda, then the EU's website would be a good choice. There is no 'for dummies' guide on the internet for this matter. I can point to a couple of useful blogs, including one by a chap who is an EU specialist and has very (anti-membership) views on it. He's extremely good, if a little bit confident of his own superiority.

somebloke123 Fri 25-Jan-13 16:51:42

egalalian

If you really want to get into it, you could read 2 books on the history and development of the EU:

"This Blessed Plot" by Hugo Young, which is written from a pro-EU perspective,

"The Great Deception" by Christopher Booker and Richard North, which takes an anti EU view.

The EU's website would give you the pro-EU "party line".

Also Richard North has an anti blog site eureferendum.com

legalalien Fri 25-Jan-13 16:55:06

Flatpack - I agree absolutely re the content on europa (which is enough on its own to put anyone off the eu), which is why i was thinking about subheadings only (eg trade, justice, internal market etc).

I'm finding some of the open europe papers helpful but presumably they have their own agenda.

I'm thinking:

Trade / single market
"Influence" in global affairs
Free movement of labour
Social chapter / rights type stuff
Democracy/ accountability / cost of operating the EU
Cross subsidisation / CAP
Crime /policing/justice

And then a basket of regulatory issues that i haven't quite worked out how to describe. Gratuitous regulation? Or perhaps simply jurisdiction / scope.

I know this outs me as a bit ignorant, but at least I'm prepared to try and engage! Civic duty and all that.

Links to blogs welcomed.....

legalalien Fri 25-Jan-13 17:03:11

Right - books on order together with another one by richard north about the battle of britain that looked quite interesting. Will be back with questions in due course mo doubt.

I wonder if i can convince anyone i know that a regular "figure out this eu thing" group would be much more interesting and useful than a book group (not a fan of book groups myself).

somebloke123 Fri 25-Jan-13 17:20:28

If you read both books then I think we'll be asking you questions!

I've read Booker and North myself and have Young which I've read part of +extracts elsewhere.

Another thing that's worth looking at is a speech by the then Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell gave to the Labour Party Conference in 1962. It's still amazingly relevant after 50 years.

www.cvce.eu/viewer/-/content/05f2996b-000b-4576-8b42-8069033a16f9/en

I like this bit:

" We must be clear about this: it does mean, if this is the idea, the end of Britain as an independent European
state. I make no apology for repeating it. It means the end of a thousand years of history. You may say ‘Let
it end’ but, my goodness, it is a decision that needs a little care and thought. And it does mean the end of the
Commonwealth. How can one really seriously suppose that if the mother country, the centre of the
Commonwealth, is a province of Europe (which is what federation means) it could continue to exist as the
mother country of a series of independent nations? It is sheer nonsense.
I referred to the Liberals. Of course, the Tories have been indulging in their usual double talk. When they go
to Brussels they show the greatest enthusiasm for political union. When they speak in the House of
Commons they are most anxious to aver that there is no commitment whatever to any political union. I do
not often sympathise with Dr. Adenauer, but I am bound to say in the recent exchanges with Mr. Macmillan
I was all for him."

Also I think on the general concept of sovereignty this pamphlet by Noel Malcolm is brilliant:

www.cps.org.uk/files/reports/original/111027161740-SenseofSovereignity1991.pdf

legalalien Fri 25-Jan-13 17:37:24

That link didn't seem to work on my ipad. For anyone following along it is, together with some other potentially interesting bits, at

www.europarl.org.uk/ressource/static/files/publications_ressources/ep_speeches_dps_final.pdf

legalalien Wed 30-Jan-13 06:52:39

Still waiting for my books to arrive, in the meantime have read "Brussels Laid Bare" by Marta Andreasen.

I am not sure what to think - having googled her she certainly seems like someone who is often mired in controversy. But if even half the stuff in the book is true, the Commission needs to be scrapped, not reformed. (Note I am talking about the Commission here, not the eu generally)

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