Sovereignty, Democratic Accountability and Britain’s place in the European Union

March 14, 2020

Summary

  • In an era of globalisation, in which countries increasingly co-operate to achieve their political, security and economic objectives, the European Union increases Britain’s ability to exert influence in the world around us – thereby increasing our real sovereignty.
  • Britain retains a veto over EU Treaty changes. A new Treaty that involves a transfer of sovereignty would, under an Act passed during the Coalition Government in 2011, have to be approved by a UK
  • Under Margaret Thatcher’s Government, Britain was a leading exponent of increased use of majority voting in building the Single Market.
  • Britain is one of the most successful countries in the EU in achieving our policy objectives. Contrary to claims by ‘Leave’ campaigners, according to a House of Commons Library study of 2010, updated in 2014, less than 10% of UK primary legislation emanates from the EU.

Substantive legislative changes are not imposed by ‘bureaucrats’ but are negotiated by British Ministers accountable to the UK Parliament.

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The EU Single Market

March 14, 2020

The EU Single Market is the world’s largest barrier-free trading area, accounting for nearly half our trade. It contains 500 million people. The EU economy is worth £11.8 trillion compared with £11.1 trillion for the US and £6.6 trillion for China. Its creation has involved three phases:

  • Internal Free Trade: From the start, all tariffs and quota restrictions on trade between participating countries were abolished, creating a free trade area.
  • The Common Market: In addition, tariffs on trade with third countries were aligned (the Common European Tariff), and trade agreements with other countries were negotiated on behalf of all members. To date the EU has 36 such agreements covering 53 markets. Other policies were also aligned: for example, national subsidies to agriculture were replaced by a common system of support (the Common Agricultural Policy), making internal free trade in agricultural products possible. VAT replaced national sales taxes.
  • The Single Market: trade between Member States was still hampered by “non-tariff barriers”: for example, diverse technical and product safety standards and other obstacles listed in British Commissioner Lord Cockfield’s Single Market Programme of 1985. Streamlined procedures for adopting common laws, embodied in the Single European Act of 1987, made it possible to remove most of these barriers, thereby creating the EU Single Market. Now, when goods are certified as compliant in the UK, they are automatically cleared for sale across the whole EU.
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Remain - the Economic case

March 14, 2020

Summary

  • Britain is a trading nation and 44% of our exports go to other parts of the EU. Over three million British jobs are linked to our trade with the EU. Access to the Single Market is a key reason why Britain receives 20% of the EU’s foreign investment. The EU has 36 trade agreements with 53 countries and is able to negotiate as the world’s largest trade bloc.
  • Leaving the EU would involve unpicking over forty years of increasing economic integration. It is probable that some form of trade deal would ultimately be negotiated but it would take several years and would not be as advantageous as our present access. A ‘Leave’ vote would be a leap in the dark.
  • HM Treasury has calculated that, on its midway scenario, by 2030 Britain’s GDP per household would be £4,300 less than it would otherwise have been. The London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance calculates that the long-term cost to Britain from lower trade with the UK could be as high as 9.5% of GDP while the resulting fall in foreign investment could cost 3.4% of GDP.
  • The Governor of the Bank of England believes that Brexit would result in growth being materially lower and inflation noticeably higher. Commenting on the implications of a ‘Leave vote’, Christine Lagarde, the Head of the International Monetary Fund, remarked: ‘depending on what hypotheticals you take, it’s going to be pretty bad to very, very bad’.
  • The ‘Leave’ campaign is not an alternative government. They have made rash claims about the supposed ease with which Britain could negotiate alternative trade deals with the EU and third countries. But, were they were to win they cannot be held to account for the accuracy of their claims.

 

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