Membership In The Eu Is An Extremely
Membership in the EU is an extremely complicated and controversial issue for the UK, that has been dividing population since the UK has joined it in 1973. The rising division within the society has made David Cameron to call for a referendum on whether the UK should leave or stay in the EU, which will be held in the next few days. Although both leave and remain campaign advocate for the rightfulness of their position, the issue is so complicated that now it is almost impossible to say whether risks of leaving are worth taking, as we’ll see the whole impact of each outcome. However, despite all the complexity of this issue, that will determine the future of the UK and might shape the future of the entire world, the UK citizens would have to make a decision. Thus, in my article, I intend to show main points articulated by both in and out campaigns, and those that, in my opinion, have the largest significance and can be crucial in answering the question whether to stay or leave.
One of the main things, concerning the vast amount of people, is the issue of sovereignty. Many people tend to believe that the EU has a much higher authority than the UK Parliament, as in many ways the EU law acts as a form of ‘higher law’ that can overrule legislations made but the Parliament. For example, Factorame legal cases of the 1990s whereby the UK’s Merchant Shipping Act 1988 was overruled by the EU legislations. Therefore, the Leave campaign uses this to encourage people to regain their sovereignty by leaving. However, this is not entirely true. Legislations, passed by the EU, are binding up until the moment the UK leaves, and the only institution that can make the UK leave is Parliament. Therefore, the argument about restoring sovereignty is essentially based on nothing as the Parliament can make a decision to leave the union at any point. Furthermore, the UK will still have other treaties, that may also ‘limit’ Parliamentary sovereignty. Hence, one of the main arguments of leave campaign is not fully true, as even though the EU limits the power of Parliament, it is still technically sovereign.
Another major issue for many UK citizens is immigration. Many express the concern that if the UK remains in the EU, immigrants from Eastern European countries and refugees would flood the UK, causing a fall in wages, as an oversupply of labour will occur, and will cause a rise in unemployment among domestic workers, as they want higher wages. As a result, domestic workers would be put at a disadvantage forcing them to accept lower wages and causing a fall in standards of living. Furthermore, many immigrants come to Britain only to claim benefits and make use go the UK. However, in negotiations with the EU Cameron managed to get a deal, whereby the UK is allowed to stop providing some benefits, such as job seekers allowance, to those who have lived in the UK under four years. This doesn’t fully change the situation, as this can only be used for seven years if the UK can show that these benefits put large pressure on the economy. Another major aspect of migration is that most migrants come to London, rather than to the rest of the UK, which causes demand for housing in London, leading to an increase in prices. And indeed, if the UK leaves a fall in prices of housing will be expected, allowing young British families to buy their own flats rather than rent them. Therefore, if Brexit happens, many British citizens would benefit as wages are likely to rise and the number of employment opportunities will increase. However, due to the growing economy of the UK and the fact that British population gets older, lack of migrants can undermine its economy. Furthermore, an increase in wages will also cause costs of production to increase, forcing producers to pass an increase in costs to customers by increasing prices, which can lead to a fall in exports because the UK goods will become less price competitive, worsening its trading position. Therefore, in this aspect, Brexit can improve lives of ordinary people, especially Londoners for whom housing is an important issue, but, at the same time, may greatly undermine the UK’s trading position and the economy in general.
The main argument of the stay campaign is, on the other hand, economic stability. Membership in the EU gives the UK an access to the single European market. If the UK leaves, it wouldn’t have access to the free market, as pointed out by German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Therefore, the UK exports to the EU may suffer as tariffs and quotas may be introduced in order to prevent other member states from following UK’s example. Furthermore, international corporations, mainly banks such as HSBC, may reallocate their headquarters to other cities, most likely Frankfurt. Consequently, financial services in the UK would largely suffer, causing unemployment and exports. Therefore, as leave campaign claims, there would be a fall of GDP by 2030 by either 3% in the best or by 9% in the worst case scenario, according to HM Treasury, making British families worse off than they could have been. However, this is not necessarily true. Despite the stay campaign claims, banks may also prefer to stay due to London’s geographical position and its expertise. There are only four large financial centres in the world and London is one of them. This allowed it to specialise in financial services, making it one of the best in the area. Furthermore, London’s geographical position allows it to connect and trade with both Asia and the US, as it’s time zone overlaps with both the US and Asia. Therefore, the likelihood of banks leaving is not as large as stay campaign portrays it to be.
Another ‘headline’ argument of the stay campaign is security. Their argument is that if the UK leaves, it won’t be able to cooperate with other countries in battling organised crime and terrorism as it wouldn’t have such close ties with European countries. Furthermore, Cameron often mentioned that by staying in the EU Britain would be able to fight Russian aggression in Ukraine. However, the UK will still be a member of NATO, which is a defence alliance, and it is likely to negotiate agreements with different EU countries, as it does with the US, without the need to be a member. Therefore, in this aspect, the stay camp tries to scare the population into voting to stay without any basis for it. This came to an extent, whereby in pro-staying newspapers articles saying that Brexit is beneficial to both Putin and Trump, which are both largely disliked if not hated in the UK. I won’t be surprised if soon afterwards articles saying that Martians will invade the Earth if Britain leaves would appear.
Now, once main arguments of both camps are over and dealt with, I want to start off with points that, in my opinion, are important. The first one is that the EU expanded to the extent, that it is no longer an organisation that it used to be. Undoubtedly, joining the EU in 1973 largely benefited the UK economy. However, now its functions greatly increased, making it a political union. To some extent, it can be argued, that the EU became synonyms to NATO, rather than an economic organisation it claimed to be. And indeed, now the EU doesn’t seek to benefit its member states as it used to. Instead, it mainly benefits large corporations that get to enjoy the benefits of one set of regulations, which makes their lives easier. Thus explaining, why most of the large businesses prefer to stay in. However, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) do not get to benefit from this but rather put at a disadvantage as they have to face the EU bureaucracy. Therefore, the EU membership benefits large international corporations, but SMEs, which are supposed to move and develop state economies, suffer due to the enormous amount of regulation and bureaucracy on Brussels, leading to a slower growth of leading economies.
Another important factor is worth considering is that the EU, arguably, suffers from imperial overstretch. As I’ve said earlier, a number of functions and, consequently, the power of the EU greatly increased, causing it to shift from a simple economic bloc to a supranational organisation that dominates and rules all its member states. Thus, it can be argued, that the EU became hubristic, which often became the cause of collapse of great empires. One example of this can be Maastricht treaty. Originally, it wasn’t signed due to the refusal of Denmark. However, after months of persuasion, EEC managed to force it through the referendum in Denmark, with victory just around 57% and create an organisation, that now known as the EU. Another example of the EU becoming blinded by its power is the creation of Euro, which signified the point of no return, whereby Brussels wanted to gain even more power than it had. EU’s desire to expand was so great that it even allowed Greece to join the single currency without investigating their economic state properly, or rather neglecting it, causing economic problems in Greece and the whole EU that we face today. Thus, the EU became hubristic, which can cause its eventual fall, following the example of all great empires, such as Roman empire, or, taking more recent history, the Soviet Union. Hence, Brexit may largely benefit the UK as if the collapse of the EU is indeed inevitable, Britain will be better off outside of a ‘sinking ship’, rather than staying and going down with it.
And finally the question of sovereignty. Although I’ve mentioned this point earlier on, saying that Parliament technically remains a sovereign institution, but this time
To conclude, although being slightly ‘on the fence’ on the issue, as both leaving and staying have their own benefit and drawbacks, I’m more inclined towards leaving. The EU became an organisation, that no longer seeks to benefit its member states. Instead, its main purpose is to benefit the transnational elite that stays in control of the EU and many other developed countries. This explains why so many foreign leaders and institutions campaigned so strongly for the UK to stay. Whereas those, who retired from their posts, such as the former head of Sir Mervyn King, tend to join the Leave camp. Furthermore, I would go as far in my assumptions as to suggest that the recent murder of MP Jo Cox wasn’t a mere ‘lucky’ coincidence for the Stay camp, which allowed them to gain momentum and shift opinion polls towards staying. Therefore, the EU became a completely undemocratic institution, that, as I’ve said previously, became hubristic, as its leaders cannot see anything except their own greed and hunger for more power. Although it may seem that I’m strongly against the EU, and indeed I am, but for me the question doesn’t come down to ‘the EU is bad’ or ‘the EU is good’. Instead, all the benefits that the UK gets from its membership should be considered, and from this perspective, it is not as clear. Therefore, the question still remains: to leave or not to leave.