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20 Reasons why it is so important to vote in the Referendum

Michael Radcliffe offers a handy 20-point summary that it would be worth everyone's time to read, save and carry around with them until 23 June.

Mike has spent his whole career in multi-national manufacturing corporations in the electrical engineering industry. He has been president of a company in France, a director of a company in Sao Paulo, Brazil and a director of a large company in Mumbai, India as well as Managing Director of Brush Transformers in Loughborough. He has had considerable experience of international trade.

 

 Twenty reasons why it is so important to vote in the Referendum on 23rd June

 

1 ORIGINS of EU By 1945 countless millions had died and economic ruin prevailed across the whole of Europe, half of which was soon under totalitarian rule. This was the driving force for the creation and success of the EU which has been central to the peace and prosperity of Europe for more than 50 years.

 

2 The EUROPEAN UNION is "founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities." Member states share a "society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail". The aims of the EU are to promote peace, its values and contribute to eradicating poverty, observe human rights and respect the charter of the United Nations and bind its members to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights.

 

3 EU Charter of Fundamental Rights brings together in a single document the fundamental rights protected in the EU. The Social Chapter is one of the primary drivers of those who want to leave the EU, principally employers who are not keen on any governmental, let alone European, interference in workplace regulation and consumer protection. Leaving the EU would open the door to the dilution of workers’ rights and consumer protection affecting the majority of our citizens.

 

4 CUSTOMS UNION No customs barriers exist between member states, the primary economic benefit to all its citizens. About half UK export trade is with the EU. A common customs policy is adopted towards other countries. Switzerland and Norway are not members of the EU, yet they have treaties with the EU entitling them to all the benefits of the EU customs union but at a cost. Both countries accept all the provisions of the Rome and Maastricht Treaties (even the key pillar of freedom of movement of people) and contribute to the EU budget as if they were members of the EU, without representation in the European Parliament or Council of Ministers. Such an arrangement would be one possibility open to the UK outside the EU. It is argued that our economic muscle will enable us to negotiate better terms than Norway and Switzerland. Any outcome that results in the UK gaining a competitive advantage over the other member states sets the precedent for other EU member states to follow the UK, which could lead to the breakup of the EU.

 

5 CAPITAL AND CITIZENS Free movement of capital and citizens are the other major benefits to citizens of the EU. To support economic growth and absorb dislocations when industries decline while growth elsewhere needs workers, requires that citizens can freely relocate to find work. All EU citizens can live and work in any of the member states. About 2 million UK citizens live outside the UK in the EU's other 27 member states, counterbalanced by about 2 million EU citizens living inside the UK.

 

6 The SCHENGEN CONVENTION abolished internal border controls and introduced a common visa policy. The UK and Ireland are not signatories to the Schengen Convention; border checks are made at the entry points to these states. EU citizens have right of entry to the UK and Ireland. Entry to the UK can be denied to EU citizens on grounds of public policy, public health or public security.

 

7 EU LEGISLATION. The European Commission, the Civil Service of the EU can only propose legislation. ‘Bureaucrats’ in Brussels cannot make decisions without democratic consent.

a. the European Parliament comprises MEPs from each of the 28 countries of the EU in proportion to each country’s population, and

b. the Council of Ministers comprises a Cabinet Minister from each of the 28 countries.

Proposals have to be approved by a majority of the European Parliament and a decision of the Council of Ministers made by Ministers of at least 15 of the 28 countries representing at least 65% of the population of the EU. (Compare this with the current UK government elected by only 36.9% of those who voted!). The proposal then becomes a Directive, passed into law by treaty in each country by the legislative body of each country. Law making in the EU champions competition, the elimination of restrictive practices and monopolies. Complaints, that some directives are unsatisfactory, are best resolved by forging alliances in the European Parliament and winning the argument through debate.

 

8 SOVEREIGNTY National sovereignty of all countries has been eroded by treaties and international obligations, and the exigencies of co-operating in a competitive world market dominated by huge corporations. When a state signs a treaty, it loses some sovereignty in return for some advantage. Ultimate sovereignty is retained by the freedom to abrogate the treaty. Most legislation that affects our daily lives is made by parliament in Westminster. Britain's sovereignty remains intact on all purely internal matters.

 

9 UK Contribution to EU Budget Each of the 28 countries of the EU pays 1% of its GDP into a common fund for:

- Investment in poorer regions of the EU to improve economic growth, especially investment in infrastructure, some in the UK;

- Common agricultural policy;

- Scientific research and training;

- Rural development and fisheries;

- International development aid;

- Security, border controls, European Arrest Warrant;

- Administration (about 6% of the total)

The UK Treasury estimates that the UK’s nett contribution to the EU budget in 2015 was £8.5 billion, less than 0.5% of GDP, representing about £130 per person per year (or 36p per person per day).

 

10 EUROPEAN SUPERSTATE Political union is unlikely to be achieved due to nationalism reinforced by the diversity of cultures and languages. Does any EU state want a European Superstate? No; it will never happen because all the other 27 states share the same view as the UK. Each state fears it will be dominated by one of the other states; nationalism prevails. Superstates only come into existence through violence and military might.

 

11 SECURITY Defence is not within the remit of the EU treaties. This is covered by NATO. Defence within the EU, from terrorism and related threats, is the responsibility of each state’s security organisations, police, counter terrorism, intelligence gathering and Europol, which is currently headed by a UK citizen. Success is dependent on shared intelligence and cooperation and the bringing to justice of suspects by the European Arrest Warrant.

 

12 JUDICIAL AUTHORITY The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the highest court in the European Union in matters of European Union law. It interprets EU law, ensuring its equal application across all states. The ECJ is necessarily superior to the Supreme Courts of each of the 28 states, otherwise EU Law could be undermined.

 

13 THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS is the court of the Council of Europe which is not an EU entity. Founded in 1949 in the aftermath of the horrors of WW2, it is a regional intergovernmental organisation whose goal is to promote human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in its 47 member states.

 

14 David Cameron's negotiation with the other 27 EU leaders made clear that:-

- the UK will not be disadvantaged by staying outside the Eurozone,

- the UK will not countenance moves to closer political union,

- the UK will never join the Euro and

- the single market will be completed by the inclusion of services. The agreement on EU immigrants, not drawing benefits until they have lived in the country 4 years may halt the flow of EU immigrants. It will not halt the flow of refugees fleeing a war zone outside the EU.

 

15 EU and IMMIGRATION some facts from the latest quarterly report (February 2016) of the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) for the year ending September 2015:-

- About 47% of all immigrants come to the UK to work.

- About 28% of all immigrants come to the UK to study (this is a major source of income for UK schools and universities).

- About 15% of all immigrants are British citizens returning to UK.

- About 42% of immigrants were from the EU.

- 2 million EU citizens currently work in the UK (about 7% of the 28.3 million UK citizens employed in the UK).

- 91.6% of the total UK population of 63 million were UK citizens and 87% were born in the UK.

 

From a report published in November 2015 by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency:-

- In 2014 Britain issued 568,000 residence permits to non-EU citizens, far more than any other EU country.

- Of these 568,000 residence permits, nearly one quarter (136,000) were issued to citizens of America, over 70,000 to citizens of China and 70,000 to citizens of India.

- From 2008 to 2014 EU countries issued between 2 and 2.5 million residence permits each year to non-EU citizens.

 

From the Health and Social Care Information Centre in 2014 of the 1.4m employed by the National Health Service the following:-

- 11% of the total (154,000) are not British

- 14% of qualified clinical staff are not British

- 26% of doctors are not British 

As UK unemployment levels are currently the lowest in the EU, it seems reasonable to conclude that a sharp reduction in immigration would be closely linked to a shrinking economy, a reduction in educational standards and shortages of qualified staff in the NHS.

 

16 THE FRAGILITY OF A CIVILISED SOCIETY The EU is experiencing huge instability. The Greek debt problem is unresolved; unemployment is very high; the debt burden and austerity measures have reduced the productive capacity of Greece to repay its debts. The refugee influx from outside the EU adds to the problem with the potential to inflame xenophobia. Unemployment encourages extreme factions as happened the 1930’s. National Socialism was elected by a democratic process in 1933; the League of Nations collapsed like a house of cards. The rise of extreme factions in Spain, Greece, France and Eastern Europe is alarming. Leaving the EU would encourage others to do the same, diminishing it. Does the UK want to see the EU collapse? Putin does! Some think turmoil in Europe need not concern us, yet we were involved in both world wars.

 

17 CONSEQUENCES OF BREXIT Walking away from our largest customer is not good business. What will be our trading relationship with the EU? We may have to accept a 3% tariff on all EU trade, encumbered by the bureaucracy of customs inspections and the slowing down, burdening and harming of trade. About half UK exports go to the EU, about 7% of EU exports from the other 27 states come to the UK. The Centre for European Reform, concludes Britain’s trade with the rest of the EU is 55% greater than it would be if outside. We do not have the economic muscle to negotiate a special case agreement for the UK. If we leave, the risks of UK economic instability are huge and political and economic instability in Europe will follow. It is in our interest to keep the EU stable. UK membership underpins EU stability.

 

18 OECD VIEW Catherine Mann, their chief economist said a vote against remaining in the EU would be “bad for the UK, bad for Europe and bad for the global economy”. “If you are outside [the EU] trying to decide where to do investment, where are you going to go: to the one that’s big or the one that has just left?”

 

19 The Centre for Economic Performance, a European economic research centre based at the LSE concludes “Our current assessment is that leaving the EU would be likely to impose substantial costs on the UK economy and would be a very risky gamble.”

 

20 KEEPING OPTIONS OPEN There will be no going back if the UK leaves the EU. It is a one way street into the unknown – a very risky gamble! The decision will probably not be made on solid information, but on the false belief in our country's economic greatness, exaggerated by narrow interest groups that have a vested interest in their own agenda. Leaving the EU is likely to fragment the United Kingdom and lead to huge instability in the EU, if not its demise. If we remain, our options remain open and we are still free to leave.

 

Michael Radcliffe 23rd April 2016 mikeradcliffe@w3z.co.uk

(Compiled from internet sources, newspaper articles and feedback from recipients of earlier drafts for which I express my thanks.)

C.V. and experience of Michael Radcliffe

Aged 76, a graduate in chemistry from University of Cambridge and a post graduate in Management from Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA, has spent his whole career in multinational manufacturing corporations in the electrical engineering industry. He has been president of a company in France, a director of a company in Sao Paulo, Brazil and a director of a large company in Mumbai, India as well as Managing Director of Brush Transformers in Loughborough. He has had considerable experience of international trade.

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