Pushing tribal loyalties aside, and the belief that left-wing people tend to be pro-EU while Eurosceptics are characterised as crazed blue-rinse Thatcherites, what are the good reasons that we should be part of the EU?
After all, if we were not part of the EU we’d still be able to trade with European countries. What are the actual trade advantages to being part of the EU?
Until recently I was in support of the EU, but it was more driven by my heart than my head. I thought the EU represented sensible modern values of equal opportunities with respect to trade as well as for ordinary people, and I thought that opposition to the EU was mainly based on xenophobia and a backward-looking love of the British Empire.
The EU seemed to help smaller countries like Ireland and Greece stand up for themselves with equal trading opportunities.
This myth has now, for me, been totally shattered – not least due to witnessing how the financial crisis of 2008 affected the smaller EU nations like Ireland and Greece compared with non-EU members such as Iceland.
I now see that the Euro currency helps level the competitive trading field to the advantage of the bigger, wealthier nations like Germany, enabling their goods to be cheaper in the international markets.
In this interview (from 12 mins in) Simon Rose, campaign manager for the cross-party group Get Britain Out, argues against being part of the EU. He makes some very valid points (despite the fact that the Get Britain Out website to my mind plays right into the hands of the pro-European agenda, as its predominant Union Jack imagery is likely to confirm the fears of left-wing Euro-doubters that any anti-European feeling can only be due to excessive patriotism.).
At 14.40 Simon Rose says: “People seem to think it is a free-trade union. It’s not – it’s a customs union and it’s a very bureaucratic… one… We actually run a trade deficit with the European Union.”
At 18.20 he says: “One of the rules is that you can’t have more than 6 percent trade surplus. Well, Germany is currently up to about 8 and a quarter, the highest ever in its history in proportional terms, so they (the EU) should actually be applying sanctions against Germany. Are they? No of course not.
“Given that Merkel actually helped [Jean-Claude Juncker] get the job, I can’t imagine that there’ll be very much chance that Junker will do that…”
He adds that Juncker is also very unlikely to help investigate EU tax havens, as the biggest by far is Luxembourg, and Juncker was in charge of this, as prime minister of Luxembourg for 18 years. (Juncker was also Luxembourg’s Minister of Finances from 1989 to 2009.)
19.25: Juncker has now been elected Head of the European Commission by secret ballot of MEPs on a candidature of just one, which is now the body that is investigating tax havens. “The man who was overseeing Luxembourg becoming a tax haven is now in charge of the investigation into tax havens, of which Luxembourg is the biggest,” Rose says.
20.50: Rose points out that our new EU Commissioner is the unelected Lord Hill (former Bell Pottinger lobbyist and co-founder of Quiller Consultants).
Finally, the film The Brussels Business demonstrates how corporate interests have hijacked the EU, taking advantage of the lack of democratic accountability. Since that film was made, it has been revealed that the highly corporate, undemocratic TTIP treaty is being negotiated, mainly in secret discussions.
So, taking all this into account, and pushing tribal loyalties aside, what are the actual benefits to ordinary people of EU membership?