Understanding the EU

Migrants from the EU to Britain are taking all our jobs and benefits. 

This claim could hardly be further from the truth. A recent study by University College London shows that European migrants to the UK pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits.

In fact, people from Europe who have arrived here since 2000 have paid over £20 billion in taxes.

And that’s not all. They’ve brought workplace skills with them that would have cost the British Government almost £7 billion in education and university costs if they’d been born and brought up here. No less an institution than the Royal Society has reported:

“Immigration to the UK since 2000 has been of substantial net fiscal benefit, with immigrants contributing more than they have received in benefits and transfers. This is true for immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe as well as the rest of the EU.”


Britain pays a fortune to support the EU

It is said Britain pays more than any other country for the EU. This isn't quite true. In 2015 Britain paid £12.9b to the EU (approx. £200 per person). But remember, Britain also gets a unique “rebate” which means we get an annual reduction in contributions.  By the time we get that rebate back, the amount we actually paid to the EU was actually about £6.5b.

Included within this expenditure, £1b of British money given to the EU is spent on international aid, which counts towards our own target of 0.7% of GDP on aid anyway.

Plus, just like being a member of your local sports and social club, we pay in so that we get something more back. Payments from the EU to the UK included:

Payments to private organisations were worth at least another £1.4b 

EU grants, such as the European Regional Development Fund, have helped invest in businesses and education. E.g. €960 billion EU budget for 2014-20 just in the West Midlands.

EU grants for regeneration totalling nearly £6million have helped kick-start the continuing development of Birmingham city centre and New Street Station.

EU grants have been used to protect and preserve historic landmarks, for example the Ironbridge in Shropshire.
Britain also benefits from membership of the single market.

p.s. Per head, Britain is the eighth-biggest contributor to the EU. The Dutch are the biggest payers.


All our laws come from Brussels

We have a say in what we get at the EU. We don’t always get exactly what we want, but that’s the same in domestic politics too. Things we have sought from the EU and got include things like guaranteed paid annual leave.

Politics requires co-operation, and that entails compromise. What we get out of the EU makes it worth it. If we leave the EU we have no say, none of the benefits of memberships but many of the negatives, for example our economy is still linked to the euro because so much of our trade is with Eurozone countries, but if we are out of the EU we would suffer from a weak euro and have import taxes placed on our exports.

We do not want to pull out of the United Kingdom just because we have to compromise between the interests of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Besides, the House of Commons Library researched this issue and found that only 13.2 per cent of our laws come from the EU (and all of these will have had input from UK elected representatives and officials).


European laws are made by unelected bureaucrats

Each county sends its own delegate to the EU, this person is known as a Commissioner. The European Commission is the EU's politically independent executive arm. It is alone responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

The Council of Ministers is where member states have their say. It brings together government ministers from each country and sometimes also involves ambassadors or government officials.

The Parliament is the democratically elected body of the EU. This is where MEP’s come in. MEPs scrutinise legislation that is recommended to us by the commission and have the power to negotiate with the commission, or veto the legislation.

So the EU agenda is set and decisions made at each stage by people we voted for (MP or MEPs) or people sent to specifically represent the UK on specialist issues.


We can control our borders better outside of the EU

Our agreement with France means UK border checks take place at Calais. If Britain were to leave Europe, this border would simply move to Dover, as the French have said themselves: Calais regional president Xavier Bertrand said:

“If Britain leaves Europe, right away the border will leave Calais and go to Dover. We will not continue to guard the border for Britain if it’s no longer in the European Union.”

Britain is not part of the Schengen passport-free area of the EU, so we retain control of our borders from within the EU.


We’ll be able to cut red tape if we leave the EU

‘Red Tape’ argument a bit of a red herring – as market access to the EU is more valuable.

The EU works on our behalf, through drafting consumer or environmental regulations, negotiating trade deals outside the bloc.

Were Britain to leave the EU, it would still have to observe most EU directives in order to do any kind of business in the bloc.

Likewise, freedom from EU energy regulations, for example, would not stop the British government facing international pressure to impose similar measures of its own.

EU ‘red-tape’ is designed to be as consumer-friendly as possible. Few mobile phone users, for example, object to the way the EU has used its market clout to order operators to radically reduce their roaming charges - something national governments would be powerless to do. Be they car manufacturers or City stockbrokers, most businesses say that whatever the hassles of EU regulations, having direct, tariff-free access to a market of 500 million customers makes it well worth it.


Other countries have forged partnerships & they are not members of the EU ~� we can do the same

Britain would be carving out an unprecedented path.

Of course, were Britain to leave the EU, trade with the EU and other countries would not dry up altogether. The UK could still export goods to Europe, and hone bilateral trading relationships elsewhere. But giants like China and India could decide to prioritise dealing with 500 million customers at a time rather than 60 million.

And the trade tariffs that would be placed by the EU on Britain as a non-member might render its products uncompetitive within the bloc. British-made cars could face a 10 per cent import tax, for instance.


The truth behind the headlines

The EU wants to get rid of the mile

It is claimed the EU wants to make all our road signs show distances in kilometres. The truth is Britain has a permanent opt out, so our road signs will always be in miles.


The EU wants to ban 999

It has been said that we must have a single Euro emergency phone number, so 999 will be banned. The truth is that 999 is staying. The EU has agreed that as well as the UK emergency number of 999, there is a second number 112 that does the same job, but is the same throughout Europe.


The EU wants to change Bombay Mix to Mumbai Mix

This story was made up by a news agency in Britain to drum up business with national newspapers. Two newspapers published the story without checking.


The Straight Banana

It’s often claimed the EU wants to ban bananas that aren’t straight. This story goes back so far that a lot of people are no longer sure quite what the scandal was about. The truth is no-one wants to ban bent bananas. The governments of European countries asked for bananas to be classified, so that shops knew what they were ordering. A banana can still be as straight or as curved as ever.


Aren't the British simply different?

Yes, and so is every other country. All have their different languages, cultures, histories and laws. The EU contains no majority language group or culture; we’re all minorities. Being in the EU hasn’t made the French any less French and it won’t make the British any less British. The EU is a welcome opportunity for cultural exchange – which is vital in today’s globalised world – and also means we can enjoy some mulled wine at Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas market every year!