Many of the benefits of EU membership are very difficult to calculate. Indirect savings come from multinational benefits of scale, wherein single bodies perform jobs and functions that would otherwise take up multiple teams of workers in each individual country. Multinational politics is expensive, and the EU provides a permanent and streamlined process, meaning that each individual member-state needs far fewer teams of politicians, lawyers and advisors - people who are infamously expensive to employ. A key area is the sharing of security data and tracking immigrants. The EU Schengen Information System, VISA Information System and centralized fingerprint databases (Eurodac) are gold-mines of information and biometrics for criminal investigations - and are highly valued. They feed into EuroPol, allowing rapid, efficient and cheap recovery of criminals and assets from across integrated Europe1. The benefits are well-known; in 2010 the UK fought all the way to the European courts to get routine access but were denied on account of not being a member of the Schengen area2.
- when it comes to extracting criminals from Europe - on average the time taken to extract a criminal is just 48 days from an EU member, but one year from elsewhere. That's 320 extra days of paying lawyers, solicitors, diplomats and police staff to chase the required paperwork and engage in the politics of unilateral extraction processes. See: Crime Fighting Within the EU: Why Should the UK Stay in Europe?.
Cheaper and more efficient negotiations on many multilateral topics because these take place within an organisation that excels at cross-government deal-making. The alternative is that industry-by-industry, agreement-by-agreement, individual countries pay for and maintain collections of lawyers and ombudsmen to convene, at taxpayer's expense, in order to merely provide the structure and paperwork for international meetings. The EU has brushed away so many layers of ad-hoc beaurocracy that it is difficult to even remember how difficult many things used to be. It is impossible to calculate the savings of having a permanently assembled meeting-house, paid for jointly. The ramifications of Brexit in 2018 revealed that the UK was benefiting from 759 deals with 168 countries3, organized by the EU, across an immense range of topics including trade, international travel, nuclear safety and justice. The UK is now faced with the grim task of running huge and expensive negotiations to reproduce the bulk of those deals. Without the power of the EU behind them, the resultant bilateral deals will be much less in favour of the UK.
Eurodac (Centralized Fingerprint Processing of Asylum Seekers) "enables the efficient and transparent receipt of EU asylum applications from those who may need the protection afforded by European values and standards. In a process that takes just 50 seconds, Eurodac can compare the fingerprints of asylum seekers and irregular border-crossers: this helps to prevent abuses such as `asylum shopping´, where applicants apply for asylum in several EU countries. The system also makes it possible to determine the EU country responsible for examining an asylum application".4
The Visa Information System (VIS) for tracking applicants and preventing VISA-shopping has operated since 2011 and provides a single system for processing VISA applications to EU countries. "It prevents 'visa shopping' (the practice of making further visa applications to other EU countries when a first application has been rejected), assists in the fight against irregular migration, helps to prevent threats to the internal security of the EU, and brings transparent and faster procedures for genuine travellers [and] allows specific national authorities to enter and consult data, including biometrics, for short-stay visas in the Schengen Area". Over the first few years, about 15% of applicants were rejected. By preventing failed applicants from simply applying in multiple countries, each country is saved the cost of processing applicants, in addition to the overall benefits of a centralized scheme.5. The benefits are well-known; in 2010 the UK fought all the way to the European courts to get access to VIS, but as a result of the UK not being a member of Schengen, they were denied access2.
The Schengen Information System is Essential for Tracking Criminals and Missing Peoples and "enables national border control authorities, police, customs, visa and judicial authorities in the Schengen area to share information [and] contains information on people who may have been involved in a serious crime or may not have the right to enter or stay in the EU. It also contains data on missing persons, in particular; children. [...] One country can issue an 'alert' into the system describing a person or object they are looking for. The alert may be coupled with an action such as the arrest of a particular person so that officers inthe other countries can act on the information". Non-Schengen countries such as the UK pay for teams of lawyers, law enforcement and ambassadors in order to achieve the simple feat of tracking international travellers and alerting authorities to noteworthy events, and are often poor at sharing vital information at all. Schengen centralizes and rationalizes these procedures into a very cost-effective and efficient system.6