Well, the UK Prime Minister has announced the upcoming referendum on whether the UK should remain in the EU, or not. And now will follow four months of various "leaders" showing up in the media, explaining to us why it is imperative that we remain in / leave (delete as applicable) the EU.
The trouble is, no one knows. Everyone will have their opinion, and may well be very forthright in their opinion. But no one knows what will happen for sure. I've listened to various people on both sides of the argument, and I think they both have valid points of view.
Here's some of my thoughts, for the sake of fleshing out a blog post:
- There is a risk that if the UK remains within the EU, and the Euro currency collapses, that the UK will be forced to help bail out other countries.
- There is a risk that if the UK leaves the EU and subsequently need financial assistance from other countries that the UK won't get help.
- The UK contributes more money to the EU than it receives from the EU.
- The EU is a heavily bureaucratic organisation that by definition can't have the best interests of any single member state in mind, because they have to do what is best for the whole.
- There is strength in numbers - globally, economic power seems to be transferring to Asia, and beyond that Africa appears to be rising also. A group such as the EU should have more ability to protect itself economically than an individual country.
- If the UK leaves the EU, we risk triggering a second referendum in Scotland to ask if they want to remain within the UK (and subsequently bringing the UK itself to an end)
- The view of the UK is often different to other member states, for example the UK doesn't seem to believe in closer union, and typically views immigration as a problem, whilst others can view immigration as an opportunity to gain new skills.
- The EU can and does impose laws that the UK is required to put into force, regardless of whether we agree or not.
- The EU looks to apply a commonality of law across the member states, so that it is easier to operate across countries.
- If the UK left the EU it would still need to comply with EU requirements in order to trade with the EU - without any ability to influence those requirements.
- If the UK left the EU it could jeopardise other agreements that the UK has with other EU states, for example the agreement for UK border guards to operate in Calais.
- If the UK left the EU it could free up the UK to work on independent trade deals with other countries, such as China.
- If the UK attempted to form trade deals with other countries, the UK may not obtain as attractive arrangements on the grounds that it is an individual country trading and not a group such as the EU.
- The requirement to advertise contracts Europe-wide makes it impossible to reserve public contracts for UK businesses.
- The requirement to advertise contracts Europe-wide lets the UK see opportunities in other countries.
So, for me it's not clear whether to stay or to leave is best, and I very much doubt that I'm on my own.
Let me know your views in the comments!