Thursday, 4 July 2013

Britain’s Membership of the EU – The Pros

by Karina Shooter

Photo courtesy of

Sky News has announced the results of an exclusive survey about Britain’s EU membership. In response to the question: "Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union?” 51% voted ‘No’, with 49% supporting the ‘Yes’ option.

The results show that there is no clear consensus on people’s views towards EU membership, and if we take into account the fact that the poll will have a margin of error, it really does highlight how result of the referendum vote could go either way. This means that it is more important than ever to discuss the pros and cons of EU membership. I will look at each side of the argument in separate articles. In this article we will look at the advantages of Britain being a member of the EU, in a subsequent article I will explore the disadvantages. 

Perhaps the most obvious advantage of EU membership is the single market. Europe is the world’s largest single market – it is an economic zone larger than that of the USA and Japan combined and it has a total GDP of around £11 trillion. The single market allows Britain to freely trade good and services between countries in the European Union, without tax or regulations. European markets account for half of the UK’s overall trade and foreign investments. It is said that EU countries currently trade twice as much with each other as they would do in the absence of the Single Market. 

Furthermore, due to the single market system, many manufacturers (such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda) have decided to build plants in the UK in order to circumvent trading restrictions on non-EU imports. This has brought lots of foreign direct investment into the UK. 

The benefit of EU membership would be increased further if the proposed EU-US free trade agreement comes into action. Kenneth Clarke is about to release a paper which shows that the agreement would boost UK car exports by 25%. He also predicts that it would boost total UK exports by 1.3% or £19bn.

Regardless of whether Britain is a member of the EU or not, Britain will be greatly impacted by its decisions – for example regulations on the single market would significantly affect Britain’s trade with other European countries (which accounts for over half of our total exports). The UK’s membership of the EU and its seat on the Council of Ministers allows the UK to put forward its case on proposed regulations and to argue for reform of existing rules.  As said by David Cameron: "Membership of these organisations is not national vanity – it is in our national interest. The fact is that it is in international institutions that many of the rules of the game are set on trade, tax and regulation. When a country like ours is affected profoundly by those rules, I want us to have a say on them."

Although EU Immigration is a highly debated topic, with many people seeing it as a disadvantage of EU membership, the right of free movement for EU citizens is an advantage for employers because it enables them to recruit from a far wider pool.  This is particularly useful when the country has a skills shortage. 

Britain’s education is greatly helped by our membership with the EU. The EU spends billions on cross-border educational projects in order to raise standards of training and education – which will ultimately make the EU more competitive. An example of this is the extremely popular ERASMUS university scheme, which allows students and staff to study or work at another higher education institution in the EU. 

Some more personal benefits of Britain’s EU membership include: 

  • The EU Health Insurance Card, which allows EU citizens to receive emergency healthcare on the same terms as the citizens of the EU country they are visiting. 
  • Pensioners can receive their UK state pension wherever they live in the EU.

But this is only one side of the story; to see this debate from a different angle, read my next article which focuses on the disadvantages of Britain being a member of the EU. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this article, Karina! It's very clear and outlines the major points for the UK staying in the EU very well.


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