Recently we put out a survey asking readers about their views on the European Union, and 100% of voters stated that in a Referendum they would vote to remain in the EU.
The main reasons to stay? Human Rights Laws, Freedom to travel between member states and Trade benefits.
Below we’re going to go into a bit more detail about these issues.
Human Rights Act
In 1959, the European Court of Human Rights was established – by the European Charter of Human Rights – and gives member states a wealth of protection from everything from a right to free trial to protection from torture.
This came into effect in the UK in 2000, but more recently the Conservative Party made clear that they would work towards leaving the ECHR in favour of a British Bill of Human Rights.
The rise of UKIP (UK Independence Party) gathering so much support, and being a pretty big threat to the Conservatives in the next election is a motivator for them, but it would also give the UK Government much more control and less accountability.
Home Secretary Theresa May said at the Conservative Party Conference in 2014
“The next Conservative manifesto will promise to scrap the Human Rights Act. It’s why Chris Grayling is leading a review of our relationship with the European court [of human rights], and it’s why the Conservative position is clear – if leaving the European convention is what it takes to fix our human rights laws, that is what we should do,”
During the same speech she confirmed that illegal migrants, criminal foreign nationals and others facing deportation will have their rights to appeal severely restricted. The number of grounds on which they could appeal will be reduced from 17 to four, and the extent to which a fresh appeal could halt a deportation is to be limited.
The video below – recorded by the BBC in 2013 – gives a good insight into both sides of the argument in UK politics at the moment.
Freedom to Travel
Freedom to travel throughout the EU is a fundamental right for members, who are entitled to:
- look for a job in another EU country
- work there without needing a work permit
- reside there for that purpose
- stay there even after employment has finished
- enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that she wishes the UK to remain in the EU but that freedom of movement cannot be questioned ‘in any way’.
This is a main sticking point for groups such as UKIP and some back bench conservative MP’s who blame this freedom of movement creating mass immigration into Britain. One thing they don’t seem to realise is that there are nearly 2 million British people living in EU countries, which essentially balances out the immigration we recieve.
The BBC has a very informative Q&A about the EU Freedom of movement rules, and the issues surrounding it which you can read here.
According to The Northern Ireland Business information website the main benefits from being in the EU are:
- greater competition in services – which is good for businesses and consumers
- removal of trade barriers
- reduction of business costs
- greater business efficiency
- elimination of anti-competitive practices – such as monopolies and cartels
However, according to the BBC a report by social policy think tank Citivas suggests that there are no real benefits for the UK from EU membership in terms of trade.
Trade with fellow EU nations makes up no more of the UK’s trade with all top economies now than it did when it first joined the EEC in 1973. – BBC
Being a member of the EU allows the UK to be part of the world’s largest single market, with a total GDP off 11 trillion, so there are obviously some benefits.