What did the EU ever do for Britain?

Posted: February 23, 2016 in Political musings
Tags: , , , , ,

eu puzzle

“What did the EU ever do for the UK?”

You hear it asked by well-meaning people all the time. And to be fair, the EU has had its share of bad publicity. We all know it’s bureaucratically top-heavy. We all know it’s clunky and sometimes passes really silly laws. But that said, how has Britain fared from it’s membership of this unique social, economic and political experiment?

We have consistently been supporters of the EU, but not for reasons to do with economic matters.

But with the referendum looming we thought it a good time to re-post this great letter by Simon Sweeney in the Guardian newspaper. Frankly, if you still think “Brexit” is a good idea after reading this, then you’re simply not interested in facts.

“What did the EU ever do for us?

Not much, apart from: providing 57% of our trade;

Providing structural funding to areas hit by industrial decline;

Regulating for clean beaches and rivers;

And cleaner air;

Insisting on lead free petrol;

Making restrictions on landfill dumping;

Instilling a recycling culture;

And arranging:

cheaper mobile charges;

cheaper air travel;

improved consumer protection and food labelling;

a ban on growth hormones and other harmful food additives;

better product safety;

single market competition bringing quality improvements and better industrial performance;

the break up of monopolies;

Europe-wide patent and copyright protection;

In the EU we have:

no paperwork or customs for exports throughout the single market;

price transparency and removal of commission on currency exchanges across the eurozone;

the freedom to travel, live and work across Europe;

funded opportunities for young people to undertake study or work placements abroad;

access to European health services;

labour protection and enhanced social welfare;

smoke-free workplaces;

equal pay legislation;

holiday entitlement;

the right not to work more than a 48-hour week without overtime pay;

the strongest wildlife protection in the world;

improved animal welfare in food production;

EU-funded research and industrial collaboration;

EU representation in international forums;

bloc EEA negotiation at the World Trade Organisation;

We have become used to:

EU diplomatic efforts to uphold the nuclear non-proliferation treaty;

European-wide arrest warrants for criminals;

cross border policing to combat human trafficking, arms and drug smuggling;

better counter terrorism intelligence;

European civil and military co-operation in post-conflict zones in Europe and Africa;

support for democracy and human rights across Europe and beyond;

and investment across Europe contributing to better living standards and educational, social and cultural capital.

All of this is nothing compared with its greatest achievements: the EU has for 60 years been the foundation of peace between European neighbours after centuries of bloodshed.

It furthermore has assisted the extraordinary political, social and economic transformation of 13 former dictatorships, now EU members, since 1980.

Now the union faces major challenges brought on by neo-liberal economic globalisation, and worsened by its own systemic weaknesses although it is taking measures to overcome these. We in the UK should reflect on whether our net contribution of £7bn out of total government expenditure of £695bn is good value. We must play a full part in enabling the union to be a force for good in a multi-polar global future.

Simon Sweeney,
Lecturer in International Political Economy,
University of York

Despite this, the anti-EU campaign will have the full force of Murdoch’s and the other 4 extremist right-wing media billionaires papers whose straightforward agenda always has been, and still is, to weaken or remove all our human rights and reduce working people to contemporary serfdom.

Over 80% of UK papers are owned by just five extremist right-wing media billionaires: Rupert Murdoch, (Sun/Times), Barclay Brothers (Telegraph), Richard Desmond (Express) and Lord Rothermere (Daily Mail).

Murdoch is Australian/American living in New York, Rothermere lives in France, the Barclay Brothers live in the tax havens of Monaco and Guernsey.

So key question – is in light of the above list of the EU’s successes – why have these billionaires and their loopy political fellow travellers for decades tried to destroy the EU’s democratic institutions? Hmmm?

Don’t be conned. Get the facts, and share them.

  1. Pauline Edwards says:

    Although the ‘out’ campaign keep complaining about EU workers coming here, what about all the Brits who are working easily throughout Europe? The bar owners in Spain and other holiday places. Let alone other people wanting to work in Europe. And who will pick our strawberries and clean our cars if we ban the Eastern Europeans from coming (said with a certain amount of sarcasm). We depend on many EU workers to keep the things we need running.


  2. Hazel Thorpe says:

    Excellent summary . We need to express the what’s in it for me at a clear and understandable level for most people fighting for their own survival.


  3. Brits have been living abroad for years – long before the dreadful days of the EU. And they will continue to live abroad after the EU finally eats itself and becomes just a bad memory.

    The EU is nothing but a statist politician’s wet dream, inserting themselves into areas that politicians never should be. A wholly unnecessary layer of autocracy and bureaucracy. The sooner the UK is out the better it will be for all. In the meantime, buy some Sterling. V cheap.


    • But that ignores all the other arguments in favour of staying in, Richard.


      • There aren’t any.

        The things you list exist throughout the civilised world and just not in EU Land. To credit the EU exclusively with any of the above is, frankly, nonsense.

        Sad to say, I think the UK sheeple will blink and miss their chance. I hope not.

        I heard one hysterical argument against leaving as ‘being a jump into the unknown’. The silly girl just needs to get on with her homework and hope she gets to do some British History.

        I am glad I am out of it. There are problems here, sure, but a load of second-rate European Politicians isn’t one of them.


        • Well, I am pleased that the blog offers you an opportunity to express your views.


          • Indeed it does. Although I do express my views elsewhere too. I have always despised the EU post-Maastricht as the Federal Europe really began to take shape. I applauded the ‘Common Market’ principle but not what it has become.

            At least we can agree on something come 3pm UK time on Saturday as I watch over a mug of tea and you over a very late night cap.


  4. LOL, indeed. Especially with Chelski having thumped in 10 in their last two games. Their irresistible force v our immovable object (Forster). We shall see. If Chelski smash one in early it may be a cue for both of us to return to our respective beds.


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