Friday, 8 February 2013
for closer integration with Europe but with the likes of UKIP dominating the agenda, we have to make sure that the positive isn't drowned
out by the xenophobic, negative froth coming from the likes of Nigel Farage and his ilk.
So what exactly has the EU done for us in Britain you may ask.
Well how about the obvious, being part of the world’s largest single market with an audience of 500 million which enables not just free trade in terms of the absence of customs duties or tariffs but a common set of rules so that business does not have to comply with 27 different sets of regulations.
Another great move was the working time directive that set a maximum number of working hours, guaranteed breaks, gave temporary workers the same basic conditions of work as full-time colleagues and gave workers the right to take parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child.
Then there is the freedom to travel, live, work, study and retire anywhere in the EU, a benefit that 1.6 million Brits have taken advantage of and live outside of the UK in the EU. Working abroad has been facilitated through the mutual recognition of qualifications, enabling professionals to work in another EU Member State without having to sit further examinations. In addition to being able to live where they choose in the EU, pensioners can receive their UK state pension wherever they live in the EU.
They introduced an EU wide tariff for mobile phone calls and texts ending exorbitant costs for using your phone outside of your own country and British shoppers are now free to shop in any Member State without being charged customs or excise duties on goods for their personal use when they return home.
Cheap and air travel across the EU came about due to legislation with EU members rights protected if a flight is cancelled or who are denied boarding and the 2008 law requiring fares quoted by airlines to be all inclusive without hidden charges being added when you come to pay.
We have the EU Health Insurance Card which enables all EU citizens to receive emergency health care on the same terms as the citizens of the EU country they are visiting while the beaches in Britain are safer due to EU Measures that set a standard for water pollution.
The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) has been very important in bringing criminals to justice across Member State borders, the UK issued 220 EAWs in 2009
The University mobility scheme ERASMUS, enables students and staff to study or work at another higher education institution in the EU benefiting over 7,000 British students annually and academic research projects receiving over €5 billion in research grants from the EU.
Another recipient of EU cash are the deprived regions of Europe with such areas in Britain allocated a total of €15.5billion from the European Structural Funds for 2000 - 2006.
Thanks to the EU, its citizens are protected from employment discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, religion or belief, disability or age. Another EU directive set a minimal size cage for battery hens.
Most importantly, and the greatest reason for staying within the EU is the seat at the top table when it comes to World politics. It is arrogant to believe that Britain will hold much sway on a stage dominated by the powerhouses of America, Europe, China, Russia and the BRIC countries because we won't.
By being in the EU we are speaking as a representative of 500 million people, only China would have a larger population. ON our own, a nations of 60 million would not have much of a voice.
The world is changing, sure the European project isn't perfect, but come out of it would not only damage us economically but politically as well and we would regret marginalising ourselves for quitting an ultimately powerful and prosperous bloc.
Removing ourselves from the EU, the UK would have zero influence and Britain would become that small island off the Coast of the Superpower withering to a painful and self-inflicted demise and why would we want to become that?