Farming, Food and the European Union

March 14, 2020

Summary

  • Britain’s farmers have had no reliable assurances from the Leave Campaign about what type or level of agricultural support would be provided in the event of ‘Brexit’. Indeed the Leave Campaign have implied that all the money associated with the EU Budget, including the rebate and the parts of the budget spent in the UK, such as on farm support, should be diverted to the NHS.
  • 60% of our food and drink exports go to the EU – worth £11 billion and equivalent to 10% of our agricultural output. 97% of British lamb exports go to the EU, along with 92% of our beef, 74% of dairy produce and two thirds of our cereal exports. If we left EU we would lose the ability to influence the rules governing the Single Market. If we excluded ourselves from the Single Market then our exports could face tariffs of up to 70% for beef, 40% for lamb and 30% for cheese.
  • The National Farmers’ Union Council – representing over 70% of farmers in England and Wales – voted overwhelmingly on 18th April 2016 to support continued British membership of the EU. The Tenant Farmers’ Association and the NFU in Scotland also back ‘Remain’.
  • A report by the NFU found that if we left the EU food prices would rise and farm incomes would fall. On two out of three trade and agricultural support scenarios the report predicts a fall in average farm incomes of between €17,000 (c. £13,500) and €24,000 euros (c. £19,000).

 

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British Success in EU Science, Research and Higher Education

March 14, 2020

Summary

  • The European Union plays a key catalytic and funding role in British science and research, enhancing know-how, research collaborations and knowledge-sharing networks. EU engagement is strengthening our innovative capability and competitiveness.
  • Britain has achieved a fundamental reorientation of EU resources away from agriculture and towards programmes to tackle the challenges of the 21st Century. Britain is a big net beneficiary from the EU’s science and research programmes – which account for a quarter of public funding for research in the UK.
  • The strength of our university and research base makes the UK uniquely placed to exploit the EU’s scale and networks, enhancing our leading position in cutting edge research.
  • Erasmus Plus promotes study exchanges in education, in workplace training and apprenticeships, thereby enriching student courses and work experience.
  • Leading figures in British universities (led by Professor Stephen Hawking) have warned about the dangers to science and research from leaving the EU.

 

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The EU and Trade Issues

March 14, 2020

Summary

  • The EU Single Market presents unique opportunities for British exporters of all sizes since it enables firms to sell products to the same specification from Bolton to Brindisi; in the past there would have been 28 different national standards adding cost and complexity. Access to an extended home market of 500 million consumers also helps British firms to compete in world markets since it allows for production to scale and for specialisation.
  • There is huge economic upside for Britain in completing unfinished elements of the Single Market in areas like the digital economy, energy and capital markets. According to the House of Commons Library if these were completed it could add 7% to Britain’s GDP.
  • The EU Single Market accounts for 44% of UK exports or 12% of GDP, whereas Britain accounts for only 11% of the rest of the EU’s exports and 3% of its GDP – an indication of who would have the better hand in negotiations on a new trading relationship in the event of a UK vote to Leave.
  • The Leave Campaign provides no clarity on the terms on which Britain would have access to our largest export market beyond vague references to a free trade area. There can be no doubt that whatever terms are negotiated will be significantly worse than those which we currently enjoy. Our companies will still need to comply with EU regulations but will have little influence over them – a diminution in control over our economic prospects. A bilateral EU-UK trade deal would have to be capable of being ratified by the 27 other member states (giving each of them a veto) and the European Parliament.
  • An even less explored area is the making of new trade agreements with the 53 countries that are currently covered by EU Trade Agreements. The EU has clout as the world’s most powerful trading bloc and is in advanced negotiations with other major economies (e.g. Canada, the US and India). Britain would need to replace multiple third country agreements in double quick time – negotiating against the clock would weaken our negotiating hand.

 

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Europe, the Environment and Climate Change

March 14, 2020

Summary

  • A review by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Select Committee has concluded that EU membership has ‘been positive for the UK environment’.
  • Many environmental challenges are best tackled through international action since pollution doesn’t respect national boundaries. There are also strong linkages between environmental policy and those covering, for example, agriculture and the regulation of chemicals.
  • EU legislation has had a hugely positive effect on the quality of Britain’s beaches (95% now meet EU cleanliness standards), on our water and rivers and on our air quality. It has helped to protect many of our rarest birds, plants and animals and their habitats and to drive the reduction of landfill waste and of power station emissions.
  • The EU has amplified Britain’s international influence on environmental policy. It has been a key actor in shaping international agreements on climate change. Apart from the extra heft which the EU has in such negotiations, it makes sense to tackle the shared target of reducing greenhouse gases together so as to ensure fair competition within the Single Market.

 

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Britain, the European Union and Projecting Global Influence

March 14, 2020

Summary

  • Britain has a unique place in global affairs: a permanent seat on the UN Security Council; a key member of NATO, one of the Big Three in the EU and a leading member of the Commonwealth. Britain delivers on its commitments – to spend 0.7% of GNI on international development and 2% of GDP on defence.
  • Britain’s combination of political, military and ‘soft’ power enables it to leverage its influence in world affairs especially through its membership of the EU, of the UN Security Council; NATO; and the Commonwealth. Each of these roles is complementary and reinforcing.
  • The European Union is a widely respected international actor. Member states share many interests and can promote them more effectively through working together. In matters of foreign policy Britain and France are clear leaders within the EU.
  • The EU and its member states can bring to bear significant leverage through its development aid and network of trade deals and special trading arrangements for many emerging economies. It has specific strategies for seeking to stabilise countries close to the EU’s borders including in North Africa and the Balkans which might otherwise become much bigger sources of migrants and instability.
  • Whilst the ‘special relationship’ with the US is important, Britain will lose influence in Washington if it is no longer seen to matter in Europe. Imagine how badly weakened the Western world would be if the US were to be led by President Trump whilst Britain is embroiled in an acrimonious divorce from its European allies!
  • The Commonwealth is a good exemplar of ‘soft power’ but its members have very different political and economic interests and priorities from Britain’s.
  • If Britain were to leave, the balance of power within the EU would change in favour of greater protectionism and towards a less robust approach to Putin’s Russia. This would weaken Western (and Britain’s) economic and political interests.

 

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Healthier in Europe

March 14, 2020

Summary

  • Health threats, from SARS to Avian Flu to Bioterrorism, do not recognise national borders. Membership of the European Union enables the UK to pool resources with our neighbours so as to tackle important challenges from public health  (air pollution, chemicals) to health innovation (medicines approvals, research networks) more effectively.
  • British citizens can work, travel, study or go on holiday anywhere in the EU safe in the knowledge that they can access local healthcare if they fall ill or have an accident.
  • Leave campaign pledges that if we left the EU £350 million a week more would be spent on the NHS ring hollow and are based on bogus figures. Leaving the EU would harm the economy and reduce the tax receipts needed to finance public services.
  • The EU has a rigorous but timely approach to approving new medicines. The London-based European Medicines Agency would relocate in the event of Brexit, reducing Britain’s ability to influence its work.

 

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The European Union and the Challenge of Migration

March 14, 2020

Summary

  • The EU Single Market is based on four freedoms – for labour, capital, goods and services. Well over a million Britons take advantage of the opportunity to live, study or work elsewhere in the EU.
  • We retain control of our borders. We are not part of the Schengen border-free travel zone. This means that we continue to check the passports of everyone entering Britain, including EU nationals. We have the best of both worlds – inside the EU but outside Schengen.
  • Through his renegotiation, the Prime Minister won important changes to guard against abuse of our benefits system by EU migrants and to broaden the grounds on which any EU nationals who constitute a security or serious crime risk can be denied entry.
  • AA study by University College London (UCL) in 2014 found that between 2001 and 2011 EU migrants contributed £20 billion more to UK public finances than they received in benefits.
  • Arrivals from the EU make up less than half of net UK This debunks the idea that it is EU freedom of movement that stops the Government from delivering on its immigration targets. For non-EU nationals a points-based system operates but it hasn’t reduced migrant numbers significantly since 2013. 
  • The Leave campaign have adopted a UKIP-type approach to immigration. They deny the special nature of our relationship with our European neighbours and Britons’ would lose the freedom to move around Europe to work and study. In pursuit of their ideological obsession with shutting out European migrants they are willing to wreck the economy by sacrificing access to the Single Market. This would have grave consequences for inward investment, our manufacturing and service industries and jobs.

 

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The European Union’s role in combatting Crime and Terrorism

March 14, 2020

Summary

  • Our participation in the EU helps us keep Britain It is in Britain’s interests to work with our neighbours to combat terrorism and international crime.
  • Britain retains border controls and since 2010 we have refused entry to over 100,000 people including over 6,500 nationals from EU/EEA countries. The measures agreed through the Prime Minister’s renegotiation increased the legal grounds on which we can refuse EU nationals entry.
  • Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) policies operate on the basis of mutual recognition between member states, with minimal interference from the EU.
  • The JHA arrangements have proved invaluable in promoting co-operation between member states in, for example, the aftermath of the Paris and Brussels
  • The European Arrest Warrant has proved to be an invaluable resource in combatting the ability of fugitives to evade justice. It has helped bring criminals back to Britain for trial and accelerated the expulsion of suspected criminals.
  • Many leading UK security experts, including former heads of MI5 and MI6, believe that British withdrawal from the EU would weaken our security and make it more difficult to combat terrorism, organised crime, cybercrime, and drug and people trafficking.

 

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The European Union’s role in Promoting Peace and Security

March 14, 2020

Summary

  • Leading figures in the Leave campaign have denied the EU’s pivotal role in building peace and stability in Europe, asserting that all the credit belongs with NATO. In fact, both organisations play important and complementary roles. As President Obama and other leading Americans have said, NATO would be weakened if European political solidarity were to be damaged by a British exit from the EU.
  • Russia’s President Putin, discomforted by the EU’s cohesion (with Britain in the vanguard) in applying tough sanctions against Russian meddling in Ukraine, is keen to see a British exit.
  • Britain has been at the forefront of developing an EU Defence and Security Policy.
  • Defence remains a national competence. EU actions are adopted after a unanimous vote, under the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty.
  • NATO and the EU complement each other. The EU uses ‘soft power’ to seek to prevent conflict in fragile states and to promote reconciliation and the rule of law in areas like the Balkans. It encourages reform through allowing access to the Single Market and its development and humanitarian aid programmes.
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Britain and the European Union Budget

March 14, 2020

Summary

  • Britain’s gross contribution to the EU Budget was £17.8 billion in 2015 but after allowing for the British rebate this figure fell to £12.9 billion. The rebate is applied immediately so the gross amount is never actually paid across to Brussels. The EU also disburses £4.4 billion to the UK public sector for things like support to British farmers and regional support. This reduces the net contribution to £8.5 billion. If allowance is then made for payments, such as research grants, of £1.4 billion paid by the EU to non-government entities in Britain, our net contribution comes out at £7.1 billion.
  • Britain is the third largest contributor to the EU Budget after Germany and France. On a per person basis, Britain is the eighth largest contributor. Britain pays 110 euros per head each year compared with 378 from the Netherlands. By way of comparison, the CBI calculates a net economic benefit from our membership of £1,225 per head per year.
  • The Leave Campaign claims we could spend an additional £350 million a week on the NHS if it weren’t for our EU contribution; this is wrong. Their calculation is based on our gross, not rebated or net, contribution. It also assumes that support for UK farmers would be abolished, that funding for regional aid and research would not be replaced and that the proportion of our 0.7% of GNI commitment to international development paid through the EU’s aid and humanitarian programmes, would be jettisoned (despite the recently enacted legal requirement to meet the target).
  • The EU Budget is equivalent to 1% of the EU’s GNI. The EU is not allowed to run a deficit.

 

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