The EU is heavily tied to our economy. It represents 508 million customers1, 200,000 UK businesses trade with it2 and 3.1 million jobs are "linked" to the EU3 (3.5 million according to ProEuropa4). "71% of all members of the Confederation of British Influence (CBI), and 67 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) [say] the EU has had an overall positive impact on their business"5. A poll by the British Chambers of Commerce found only 12 per cent of medium-sized business want to leave the EU and that big business is squarely pro-Europe6.
The EU adds 4.5% to our GDP (£62-78 billion per year) through economic and business benefits according to the CBI's estimate5 and we get £66 million investment every day from EU countries7. A UK Department for Business and Innovation Skills report in 2010 found that for a 14-year period across the whole EU the average GDP was 2.2% higher than it would have been without the Single Market8. Gordon Brown, a former Prime Minister, says that "nearly half the foreign direct investment we secure - £450 billion in total - comes from mainland Europe"9. Although as long ago as 2013 "associations representing investors from the USA, Germany, France, Ireland, Canada and Sweden voiced concerned that the UK government is dragging the debate on membership, making it difficult for businesses to plan and harming the UK economy"6, and reports in 2016 May surfaced of acute loss of investments due to the increasing risk of Brexit. There is simply no point producing goods in the UK to export to the EU if the UK is not a member.
Total savings of £3,000 for every family in the UK are attained by bringing many of these things together and calculating the net financial gain after deducting costs of EU membership, on average10.
44% of everything the UK sells abroad is bought in the EU4,5,7,11. If we left, we would cease to have any say in trading standards and requirements, but, we would still have to comply with all such rules. It is of great benefit to be part of the system rather than an outsider. Conversely, if we left this massive trading block will be swayed only very little by UK bartering as "less than 8% of EU exports come to the UK"11.
Prevention of tariffs and trade barriers in the EU7, almost completely. Tariffs massively harm economies across the rest of the world.
We benefit from EU free trade deals with over 50 countries around the world12, a massive effort that the UK simply doesn't have the bargaining power to orchestrate on its own. The rise of several economic superpowers has meant that most trade deals are now done inbetween economic blocs that surpass the UK in size and wealth, and who can negotiate better deals on account of their populations and economies. The EU, as a single block, is one of those bodies that can orchestrate the best deals. As a member of the EU, we benefit from this strength. If we left, the EU would become our largest competitor for global trade deals.4
EU membership makes it cheaper to import vital goods, saving us £11 billion and saving individual families on average £450 per year13.
The EU has made creating businesses easier, cheaper and quicker 14. "Easier cross-border trade within the EU means that small- and medium-sized enterprises now have access to new export markets, which previously were not an option because of the cost and hassle that was involved with border bureaucracy"8. Because EU regulations are standardized many products can be made without having to create different models per country.
“It has become easier to start or buy a business with the average cost for setting up a new company in the former EU-15 has fallen from €813 in 2002 to €554 in 2007, and the time needed to cope with the administrative procedures to register a company was reduced from 24 days in 2002 to about 12 days in 2007.”
Department for Business and Skills (2010)
The UK receives considerable farming subsidies, helping 476,000 people in the UK5. "The average British farmer makes more money from European subsidies than from farming"15. Without this aid many farmers would go out of business16. Although we pay more into the Common Agricultural Policy than we get out, remember that the scheme as a total subsidizes food production throughout the EU which helps bring down the cost of food. The alternative is that all of us rely on expensive imports from further afield. If the UK leave the EU it will still have to import (lots of) food, but will have no say in its production or economies.
EU funding of assets from the Eden Project (£26 million) to Universities (£76 million in the SW alone) as a result of EU projects7.
EU-wide trademark protection: Since 2003, UK companies can "protect their trade marks and designs throughout the EU by making a single application for EU-wide registration. This cuts down bureaucracy - avoiding the need for trade marks or designs to be examined in 25 different jurisdictions each with its own rules"8. Before this, many trademark abuses simply went unchallenged, damaging business integrity especially in the long-term. The savings to businesses of this simplified scheme is incalculable.
Additional indirect savings from EU are simply too complicated to calculate. Here's one, for example:
- 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 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, we 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, and simply impossible to calculate the savings of having a permanently assembled meeting-house, paid for jointly rather than bilaterally-per-agreement.
By Vexen Crabtree 2016 Jun 09
(Last Modified: 2016 Dec 15)
Parent page: United Kingdom: National Successes and Social Failures
References: (What's this?)
The Independent. Respectable and generally well researched UK broadsheet newspaper. See Which are the Best and Worst Newspapers in the UK?.
(2016) Europe & You: South West. Dated January / February 2016. A newspaper-style leaflet delivered to homes in the South West. Published by The In Campaign Ltd, London, UK. This body resulted from debates surrounding UK's possible exit from the EU, with a vote being held in 2016 Jun 23.
(2016) Britain: Leading, Not Leaving: The Patriotic Case for Remaining in Europe. Published by Deerpark Press, Selkirk, UK.
HM Government (UK)
(2016) Why the Government Belives that Voting to Remain in the European Union is the Best Decision for the UK. Published to argue the government's position ahead of the UK referendum on EU membership on 2016 Jun 23. Published in 2016 Apr, and delivered to households nationwide.
The Financial Times
(2013) Britain and the EU: In or Out?. This ebook is drawn from articles originally published in the Financial Times between 1975 and March 2013.
- europa.eu/about-eu/facts-figures/living/index_en.htm accessed 2016 Apr 26.^
- Europe & You: South West (2016) citing HMRC.^
- Two sources for this information. (1) Centre for Economics and Business Research, released in October 2015 - The Independent (2016 Feb 04). (2) "Office for National Statistics and House of Commons Library" (no details given) in "Europe & You: South West" (2016).^
- ProEuropa.org.uk page Reasons to Stay, accessed 2016 Feb 11.^^^
- The Independent (2016 Feb 04) "What has the European Union ever done for us?" by Kayleigh Lewis.^^^^
- Article "Foreign investors split" by Brian Groom and Hannah Kuchler (2013 Jan 17). Groom is the FT's UK business editor, and has also been political editor and Europe editor. Kuchler is the UK news reporter and has worked at the FT since 2009. Reproduced in Financial Times (2013).^^
- Europe & You: South West (2016).^^^^
- Department for Business and Innovation Skills page The Benefits and Achievements of EU Single Market. Accessed via a page archive dating from 2010 Aug 12, on 2016 Mar 01.^^^
- Brown (2016) digital location 155. Added to this page on 2016 Dec 15.^
- Europe & You: South West (2016) citing CBI and the Office for National Statistics.^
- HM Government (UK) (2016).^
- Europe & You: South West (2016) cites the Office for National Statistics.^
- Europe & You: South West (2016) citing HMRC, the World Trade Organisation and the European Commission.^
- Added to this page on 2016 Dec 15.^
- Added to this page on 2016 Dec 15. The Times newspaper (2016 Nov 12) article "Betting the Farm"^
- The Telegraph article "How Brexit would affect British farmers" (2016 Feb 27), accessed 2016 Jun 09.^