The European Union, in its basic form, was formed in 1945 with one aim in mind: to never again let the continent of Europe see total war. Originally starting in Western Europe the idea was to bring together Europeans under one federal government and create a greater European state. The United Kingdom only joined the EU, or the European Economic Community as it was known then, in 1973 during the time of Ted Heath. It wasn’t until 2007 that the Treaty of Lisbon was signed which forms the basis of the constitutional power of the EU. Since then we have seen the great benefits of being part of the EU.
As part of the greater European state we have fostered a greater sense of European identity and the free movement of peoples within the Union state areas have led to a greater diversity of people within the UK. It has always been said that the best way to avoid another World War, started by the kind of nationalism that was present in Germany in the 1930s, is to increase the diversity of the populace across the board and foster a sense of acceptance of diversity. The UK has only become more European as a result of being a part of the EU and this is widely welcomed as a positive thing. The other argument for the free movement of peoples has meant that Brits do not have to wait for the market to create jobs in this country and instead they can go abroad to seek employment and this is true for other Europeans – they can come to the UK when we have a labour shortage. With a fluid labour market it lends itself to greater industrial development across the EU and a lower reliance on outside markets – by creating a superstate we have taken away the heavy responsibility of the domestic markets to provide for their workers. It has actually been suggested that 35 million jobs are provided in the UK by the EU, which would work out as about 1 in 10 jobs. The single market makes provision of employment much easier. The single market also makes trade easier and ensures that the UK’s market is given a guarantee of use by the other 27 members and, more over, the produce of the UK is most in demand within the EU itself. The single market gives foreign investors and industrialists the necessary confidence to set up shop within the UK.
We have also seen a greater economic benefit for the UK because the access to a range of EU funding especially for agriculture and cultural preservation. By leaving the EU we would have to find ways of providing this funding ourselves. We also have a greater access to wider democracy and access to engagement on the European level which we put in jeopardy by coming out of the Union. The regulations created by the EU also help us reach environmental targets and ensure that workers’ rights are protected on the basis of collective bargaining and health and safety. The consumer is also protected as a part of the EU and guaranteed a larger area of similarity for the consumer, especially in the Eurozone itself, to ensure consumer rights are protected and that the benefits they observe in the UK are largely replicated across the whole of the EU. Consumers also see cheaper tariffs and rates for things such as phone roaming charges and credit card charges.
We must also look at the UK’s place within the wider world. The UK no longer has an empire behind it and its larger global appeal has declined which means that on a global scale it would be better for the UK to be represented as part of a larger force to negotiate its place within the global community. The UK would be part of a group of 28 democracies with the same aims who could represent themselves at the UN level as part of one power. Also, the EU cultivates a zone of intellectual diversity and richness by its allowance of freedom to study across the whole of the Union which is fostered by the Erasmus system. The UK is the second largest beneficiary of EU research funds, and the British Government expects future EU research funding to constitute a vital source of income for our world-leading universities and companies. The EU is also the bastion of equality due to its enshrining of equal pay in EU law and it also prevents bans on the basis of age, race or sexual orientation. Crime across the EU is tackled by the European Arrest Warrant replaced long extradition procedures and enables the UK to extradite criminals wanted in other EU countries, and bring to justice criminals wanted in the UK who are hiding in other EU countries. Eurojust helps UK authorities work with other EU countries’ to tackle international organised crime such as drug smuggling, people trafficking and money laundering.
Thus the case has been made for why we should remain in the European Union. To leave now would unravel years, decades even, of progressive attempts to bring the European community together and closer than we have ever been. Think of the utterly unnecessary bother that it will take to pick apart the tight union that we have formed and what will we be left with? We will be left with a country that does not know its own culture anymore and will have to go ways to re-establish itself on the global stage and re-assert itself.
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