- Trade – over 45% of British trade is now tied up with the European Union we rely on these countries as our biggest export market and by the way I also like the imports we get from the European Union like German cars, French & Italian wine, Belgian chocolates, Danish bacon and much more. All tariff free and I want them to remains so. It is not just trade in goods at stake but also trade in services. The UK is increasingly a service sector economy and the EU concept of “mutual recognition” gives us a passport to sell our services throughout the EU.
- Domestic Investment – the plain fact is that much of UK company investment is heavily linked to having a guaranteed European Union market of 27 other countries that we can export to open to us with certainty on a permanent basis, so long as we remain part of the European Union. Why would I want to risk job losses and lower investment in the UK economy?
- Foreign Direct Investment – the UK has traditionally been one of the biggest attractors of foreign direct investment in the European Union. The reason we attract so much of the FDI is we have a fairly competitive economy and also because we have guaranteed tariff free access to the 27 other EU member states. If we vote to leave then much of the FDI, associated investment and jobs will disappear and go to our competitors who do have access.
- Immigration – the UK is actually a beneficiary of European Union migration. A lot of EU citizens come to Britain and contribute skills and pay taxes. Yes some do abuse the system to unfairly claim social security benefits but the vast majority do not. Much of this migration means we are able to cover skills shortages in our hospitals, care services, skills, building and service industries.
- Freedom of movement of capital and labour – yes I like the fact that if I want to I can take my pound notes sell them and put them into Euros and the UK government cannot stop me since capital controls are outlawed by the European Union. I like the fact that if I want to, I can find a job somewhere outside of Britain, for example, France, Italy, Spain or Germany and these countries would have no right to stop me taking a job in their countries. I think it is great that British businessmen have the right to set up subsidiaries in other European Union countries if they want to. Our kids have the right to work and study in these countries as well.
- Jobs – Britain is a large trading nation and many British jobs would be put at risk if we were to leave the EU. Think about it a Brexit would mean lower domestic investment, lower FDI and lower exports. All this translates in to lower jobs estimates vary about the size of job losses anything from 500,000 to 3 million. My best guesstimate is around 1 million job losses over 2 years were a Brexit to occur.
- The cost of living – even for the vast majority who will keep their job were Britain to leave the EU there is a real danger that prices might rise quite rapidly. Firstly the pound is likely to fall significantly pushing up the price of imports. Secondly the UK might be forced eventually to apply tariffs to imported EU goods if we cannot negotiate some free trade arrangement that is acceptable to the World Trade Organisation. Thirdly EU competition keeps British firms competitive without the EU competition then over time we would turn the clock back to the late 1960s and early 70s when the UK economy was very uncompetitive.
- Peace and Stability – there is an old adage that “trade knits nations together” making it much less likely that countries want to spend their time and resources fighting each other. Let’s remember that one of the reasons the EU (EEC as it was originall called) was formed in 1957 was to help reintegrate Germany into the European economy and make war between France and Germany unthinkable. In this respect the EU has been an outstanding success, the European Union was even awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2012 in recognition of this.
- Britain has more influence as a European Union Member – the Americans, Japanese and Chinese pay a lot more attention to the UK and it''s views because we are a member of the European Union and have the ability to influence the way the European Union is run. The UK is simply not a big and strong enough economy compared to the USA, China and Japan to negotiate with these countries on equal terms but as members of the EU we are able to negotiate with these countries on a much more equal footing.
- Safety and Security – sure the NATO alliance is the primary guarantor of European security but as members of the European Union we are able to use law enforcement intelligence from the 27 other EU countries and have access to fingerprint and DNA information. Since 2004 using the European Arrest Warrant over 1,000 suspects have faced justice in UK courts and over 7,000 have been extradited from the UK to face trial or serve a sentence.
- Globalization – I am in favour of globalization and the benefits it brings. Being part of the European Union is being part of the process of globalization, I am fed up hearing arguments from little Englanders pretending that all would be fine and well if we left to EU. Things will be worse and potentially much worse. A country run by Boris Johnson, Ian Duncan Smith, Liam Fox and John Redwood! No thank you very much.
- Keeping the UK together – a Brexit would be a disaster for the unity of the UK since it is highly likely that Scotland and Wales would want to remain part of the EU. As such, this could lead to them both having referendums to leave the UK followed by applications to rejoin the EU. That will be years of further uncertainty and chaos and I just think we have other priorities to worry about.
I have studied the process of European integration in some detail at the College of Europe in Bruges where I also became a teaching assistant for a year. I also had the pleasure of doing my PhD thesis at the European University Institute in Florence. So it is probably no surprise that I would have a European Union bias. But let me state 12 simple reasons why I want the UK to remain as part of the European Union.
The author of this blog is Keith Pilbeam who is currently Professor of International Economics and Finance at City, University of London.