The Importance of the European Union for the UK
written by Experts on the EU from Leicester and the surrounding regions.
This text may be widely circulated for educational and campaigning purposes.
Dr Carol Weaver (EU academic)
First and foremost, the EU has always been a peace project. It was initially designed after WWII to help prevent any more wars in Europe. Eastern enlargement was another peace plan after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Security is now assisted by the Common Security & Defence Policy and the European Defence Agency, as well as the European Arrest Warrant, intel sharing and Europol.
Professor John Twidell (Amset Centre)
The EU is essential for renewable energy and environmental matters. It is a global leader on possibly the most essential issue of our times. EU collaborative Research & Development has underpinned the UK’s present successes in carbon-free energy generation, e.g. increasing the renewable’s proportion of electricity from about 1% to the present 30%, which proportion will increase as permitted more wind and solar capacity is installed.
Brenner Munden (Politics and IR student, University of Leicester)
The EU is especially important to young people. It is fundamental for various schemes such as Erasmus and youth panels, as well as the freedom to travel and work throughout Europe. The charter of fundamental rights and the promotion of different cultures are also important to young people. These things unite us. If the UK does leave, it is the younger generation that will lose the most. In particular, the young do not want to lose their European citizenship.
Ian Sharpe (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate)
The EU has built the customs union and single market through 60 years of negotiations and compromise. They are given legal force through international treaties. The Customs Union (CU) and Single Market (SM) have created a single EU economy, which has ensured the prosperity of all members and given European countries an influence in the world that individual member states could never have achieved. The founding treaties have functioned successfully because they are adjudicated on and enforced by independent arbiters, the European Courts.
The Brexit promise of retaining the economic advantages of EU membership while leaving the CU and SM and the jurisdiction of the courts is an obvious nonsense and literally as impossible as having your cake and eating it.
Dr Phil Bennion (former MEP and current farmer)
On agriculture the main point is exports to the EU. Agricultural commodities have high WTO tariffs and we export about 35% of our sheep meat to EU countries. We are the biggest sheep producer in Europe and Brexit would render us uncompetitive. We might benefit from a little lighter regulation but the UK is likely to be as bad as the EU for over-regulation. We also face loss of government support which is currently on a level playing field through the EU.
On Ireland the border problem can only be solved through a comprehensive Customs Union Agreement including agriculture. Even then there would need to be an acceptance by both UK and Irish governments that illegal immigration could be a problem in both directions. Hence the UK Government red lines have been mutually incompatible from the start.
David Walker (retired University Economic Geographer and Charnwood councillor)
It is important to understand that there is a very powerful motivation for the campaign to leave the EU. It has to do with taxation and tax avoidance. The EU estimates that 1 trillion Euros a year (four times the total expenditure on the NHS) of tax income could be recovered and is about to pass legislation to require governments to collect that tax. This would destroy the London based tax avoidance industry and explains the massive expenditure on advertising and on Facebook to ensure that the UK escapes from the EU.
Mathew Hulbert (former Councillor, Hinckley and Bosworth)
The EU has promoted minority rights and equality across its members. But now due to Brexit we are already seeing slogans on doors such as ‘No blacks’. This kind of threat is applied to all minorities. In particular there are fears amongst the LGBT+ community that things could change if we leave the EU. Brexit is fuelling the far right.
George Smid (EMUK regional coordinator)
Freedom of Movement has benefitted all but has been hijacked by those who wish to leave the EU. Around half of immigration is not from the EU and many of the EU immigrants are from countries very close to us such as Ireland and Germany, bringing a lot of foreign direct investment (FDI).
Kirk Blackmore (Primary and Secondary Care Specialist)
Having the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in London where it was initiated was of enormous benefit to the UK. The senseless loss of 900 jobs will affect how quickly we can bring new medicines to the UK market and patient safety in the context of both new and existing prescribed medicine delivery. Now we have lost the EMA it will take 2 to 3 years longer to bring new medicines to market in the UK with the EU and US patients having available life changing benefits before NHS patients (ABPI). A second concern is medicine supply and the real lack of government knowledge of the problems involved in drug manufacturing. Cold storage and stock-piling date sensitive molecules is not a viable option. We are also already losing funding for cross-border research and development.
Dr Natalie Martin (Senior Lecturer, Politics and IR, Nottingham Trent University)
The European Union is and always has been a peace process.
Also, the Union has greatly benefited our universities which work together across the EU in some of the world’s largest collaborative research programmes. The UK has been the largest beneficiary from these programmes financially but there is now a threefold attack as we also stand to lose many of the best EU27 academics and students.
Dr Neville March Hunnings (EditorEncyclopedia of EU Law)
The EU has created a zone of peace and tranquillity that makes war (both military and economic) between its Member States impossible. It did this by entwining their economies into a complex organic structure based on an effective inter-State rule of law and by developing a new form of democracy, that between States. This self-discipline of proud sovereign States is unique in human history and should be cherished, not rubbished, at a time when the world is becoming dominated by great Hobbesian powers roaming the multiglobe.
Péter Sasvári (Hungarian PhD researcher, UoL, Alliance Europa Leicester)
The European Union is an alliance based on shared values, European identity, common interest and aims. Divided we would fall, but together we can stand strong on the basis of values and democracy. Europe cannot defend these core values and face the challenges of the new age without increased strength and unity. Without Britain, Europe will be poorer and weaker. Remain is in the mutual interest of both Britain and the rest of the continent. Stay with us!