The EU Hokey-Cokey

The big question on the 23rd June will be whether the UK stays in the European Union or breaks away. There has been a lot of debate (intelligent and otherwise) among both official sources and online disputants. I recently read that many Brits stated that they would be voting out of Europe on the basis that everyone they knew was doing the same. This is at once horrific (is this any way to make a decision?!) and exciting, as it means that speaking up about your vote CAN influence others in a positive way. Hence my post today. I in no way intend to preach; I simply hope that sharing my thoughts might support or encourage someone else to think about this subject and look into making an informed decision.

DISCLAIMER: I know that the EU referendum isn’t at first glance related to parenting, but in fact it is all about the future and so I can’t think of anything more relevant to my child’s life right now. The decision that adults make on the 23rd June will have a huge impact one way or the other on the lives of our children and future generations.

Let’s get this out of the way: I will be voting to remain in the EU. Feel free to disagree with me – that’s the joy of democracy!

Now, I admit I don’t like the way Britain was sneaked into the EU under the guise of joining the EEC of the time (European Economic Community). My feeling is that we joined a common market and before we knew it we were in over our heads. I think that transition was badly handled, as it left many Britons feeling that way, most of whom will be voting to leave Europe next week.

However.

Being part of Europe offers us inordinately more than it demands. Yes, we contribute financially, but we are all adults and as such we understand that a) laws, parliaments and charitable organisations require funding and b) as a relatively wealthy European country we should of course make proportionately more signifcant contributions than others. Do not be put off by statistics about how much we contribute – remember we receive funding back too!

Here is a summary of my reasons for remaining in Europe:

  1. Trade. We benefit hugely from trade deals with the rest of the EU, and the US and EU are currently negotiating the world’s largest free trade area (ref: BBC) – which I want us to be part of, not outside!
  2. Culture. I love the rich diversity of European cultures, gathered together under one name but able to share and explore each other’s cultural heritage in friendly union.
  3. Investment. I’m no Martin Lewis, but I understand that staying in Europe is a safer option in terms of investment. Leaving is a big unknown, with potential for crashes and panic. Apologies to economists, I know that is hugely simplistic but it’s my best understanding.
  4. Company. Who is supporting ‘Brexit’ and who is campaigning to Remain? Whose company would you rather be in?! All world leaders apart from Trump and Putin want us to stay; all former UK PMs say stay, whereas the leaders of UKIP, BNP, EDL and Britain First want us to leave; a ton of significant environmentalists, human rights activists and scientists want us to stay; important economists like the Director of World Trade Organisation and the Governor of the Bank of England are voting to stay…if you’re not sure and you need encouragement, look at those names! Much more detailed lists can be found with a quick google.
  5. Immigration. Due to the unlimited nature of inter-European immigration, Britain has experienced an influx of immigraton (ref: The Week). That’s fine by me; the only European (and non-European for that matter) immigrants I ever come into contact with are contributing hugely to our economy and society by working hard. I know that’s not true of all immigrants, but neither is it true of all British people! To claim Job Seeker’s Allowance an immigrant would have to prove they were actively seeking work – just like any British claimant. And for the record, it’s impossible to ‘steal’ jobs – the employer chooses who to employ and at what rate, not the employee!
  6. Worker rights. Since the 1970s, Europe has brought us huge advances in worker rights, such as paid annual leave, maternity pay, equal pay for women, various anti-discrimination regulations, and rules about maximum hours and minimum breaks.
  7. Travel. It’s currently easy to travel between European countries, and we enjoy access to emergency healthcare anywhere in the EU.
  8. Consumer protection. A dull one, but important. Thanks to EU membership we have certain rights regarding guarantees and roaming charge ceilings, for example.
  9. Crime control. Cross-country communication (that our EU membership facilitates) allows crime fighting organisations to cooperate and fight human trafficking, drug dealing, terrorism and paedophilia more efficiently. The less barriers between the police forces of different countries, the better.
  10. Environment. What could be more important than the world and creatures around us? Staying in Europe is recommended by the Green Party, the RSPB and the WWF among others.

Add to this the huge amount of charities and charitable projects funded by the EU, the 3.5 million British jobs directly linked to membership of the EU (1 in 10 British jobs, ref: Pro Europa), the Erasmus student exchange scheme, and research funding, and it’s an easy decision for me!

I hope this post has brought to light a few aspects of the EU debate, and whether you agree with my final outcome or not, we should all make as informed a decision as possible. It’s so exciting to be part of a huge decision like this! Enjoy exercising your right to vote on 23rd June, in whichever box you decide to make your mark!

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