How the EU benefits the UK
Follow the links in the list below to find out how the European Union benefits the UK.
A more comprehensive list of EU activities, published by the European parliament, can be found by following this link
Another summary list of 98 benefits to the UK can be found here
Full Shops and Busy Factories with Zero Red Tape
In 2017 2.6 million lorries passed through the Port of Dover and a further 1.6 million via Le Shuttle. This equates to around 7,000 and 4,500 lorries a day carrying freight which is 99% intra-EU. Thanks to UK membership of the EU there is no red tape. These lorries are not subject to customs checks and sail through the port in seconds. By contrast, checks on goods from outside the EU typically take between 5 minutes and 45 minutes.
Global Britain – More than 50 International Trading Partners
The EU has negotiated trade agreements, with around 50 nations, that are either wholly or, like Canada, partially implemented. A further 22 agreements, including with Japan and Singapore, have been negotiated but await ratification. Negotiations are ongoing with 21 nations, including Australia, China, India, USA (on pause) and the Mercosur nations of South America, including Argentina, and Brazil. Some, such as Chile and Mexico, are currently being updated.
As a member of the EU, the UK trades under all these agreements. Since the time of writing, the agreement with Japan has come into effect (02/2019).
Stronger Together – Standing Up to the Big Economies
No one European nation can expect to negotiate trade deals with economic giants, like the USA and China, as an equal partner. These may soon be joined by Brazil and India and all can be expected to strike a hard bargain. Together, the 28 nations of the EU, with their 400m citizens, are a force to be reckoned with and their multi-national teams are battle-hardened by a long history of trade negotiations.
UK Auto Industry Booming
In 2017 the UK auto industry produced 1.67m cars, making it the (joint) third largest manufacturer of cars in the EU and the fourth largest for all vehicles. Of these cars, 1.33m, or 80%, were exported, generating revenues of £44bn. A whopping 54% of these cars were exported to other EU countries. The vast majority (93%) were produced by just 5 companies, all foreign owned. This massive inward investment in the UK is almost entirely due to the favourable trading conditions with the EU that result from our membership of the customs union and single market. Nearly 1m UK jobs depend on it, almost 200,000 directly in manufacturing, as well as 78,000 young people starting apprenticeships (2016/2017).
Since the time of writing, Nissan has cancelled its plans to build a new model in the UK and Honda have announced their intention to close down UK manufacturing..
High Tech Partnerships in Aerospace
After WWII, UK’s innovative and world leading aviation industry was exposed to irresistible competitive pressure by the comparatively limitless resources of the US. Eventually, the cost of developing commercial airliners and advanced combat aircraft was beyond the reach of any single nation in Europe and Airbus emerged as a consolidation of the European industry, partnering with BAE systems in the UK.
Today, Airbus sustains 100,00 jobs in the UK with 14,000 directly involved in the production of 1,000 airliner wings a year. As well as contributing £7.8bn to the UK economy, Airbus UK has trained 4,000 apprenticeships in the last decade and collaborates with 20 UK universities. BAE Systems continues to participate, through its 33% stake, in the Eurofighter project which sustains a further 40,000 apprentices. The UK also has a role in the Galileo global navigation satellite system, for the time being at least. Continuing success in all of these projects is contingent on membership of the EU and its customs union and single market.
Ongoing Control of Our Laws, Money and Borders in the EU
All law in the UK is the responsibility of Parliament which either implements it directly (primary legislation), via an act, or delegates it to ministers (secondary legislation). To be binding in the UK, EU laws must be adopted via one of these mechanisms. The EU cannot impose laws on the UK neither can the European Court of Justice overturn UK law. Over time however, EU law has had an increasing influence on UK law, but it should be remembered that the British Government and MEPs influence EU law through the Council of Ministers and European Parliament.
Control of our money is largely in the hands of the UK Government who agree the level of contributions to the EU budget, using a formula agreed between the 28 Member States. Our Government has a full voice in those negotiations, and in the past negotiated a unique “rebate” for the UK, currently worth £5bn. Our currency is not directly affected by the EU since we never joined the Eurozone. It is indirectly affected through the international money markets over which no nation has control – immediately after the 2016 referendum the pound fell by 10% against the US Dollar and now stands at 14% below the pre-referendum value.
The UK is not in the Schengen accord, which abolished border controls among the states which signed up to it. This means the UK still controls its borders, checking the identity of all travellers, including visitors from EU countries. In addition, countries have the option, under EU law, to require anyone, who moves to another member state for work, to leave if they have not found work within three months.
EU Workers Fill Vital Gaps
In the year ending June 2018, net migration of EU citizens, the difference between immigration (219,000) and emigration (145,000), was 74,000. Net migration of non-EU citizens, where far fewer returned to their own countries, was 248,000. In the same period, 49,000 more British left the UK than arrived. Some of these will have joined the 800,000 British citizens living in the EU.
To put these numbers in perspective, 63,000 NHS staff in England are EU nationals, 25% of whom are doctors, nurses and technical staff, vital skills necessary to the health of our nation. In addition, 27,000 people from other EU member states work in UK agriculture (2016 figure) and a further 116,000 in the UK’s food manufacturing sector. During peak seasons, the agriculture sector is further dependent on a large temporary workforce – thought to be around 75,000 strong – to supplement regular, permanent staff in harvesting crops. It is estimated that 98% of this number are recruited from elsewhere in the EU.
Investing in the Future- Research and Innovation
The EU Research and Innovation funds for 2018-2020 amount to €30bn. The UK has consistently been a leading beneficiary of previous research and innovation programmes, receiving around 15% of the funding available. The UK ranks first across the EU in the number of participants with signed contracts, with 7,360 as at July 2017. While the UK remains a member of the European Union, UK participants remain eligible.
Peace – Protecting Good Friday
After centuries of bloodshed in Europe, it is often said that the EU has been responsible for the peace the continent has enjoyed since WWII. Be that as it may, the close collaboration between nations, fostered by the EU, and the increasing interdependence of their economies can have done nothing but good.
In the continuing conflict between the communities in Northern Ireland, the membership of both the Irish and British governments in the EU, and the forging of relationships in that context, was a vital element in reaching an agreement. And, since 1989, The peace process in Northern Ireland has been receiving financial support from the EU through both EU regional policy and EU contributions to the International Fund for Ireland. Today the EU is adamant that it cannot agree to any Brexit provision which will jeopardise the fragile peace.
Reducing Red Tape with Common Standards
All nations have product standards; some voluntary and some requiring regulatory regimes, like those for food safety and animal health. Nations also impose checks, at their borders, to ensure imported items meet their regulations. Within the EU Single Market, members agree to common standards to minimise barriers to trade and eliminate hold-ups at borders for certified products.
Businesses, too, need to have confidence that their suppliers will deliver products that meet their requirements of safety, quality, and efficacy. This becomes more difficult as more and more components are sourced internationally and supply chains become increasingly complex, possibly crossing borders many times. Common EU standards are helping to address this and, in some cases, non-EU companies, trading with the EU, are adopting EU standards in their home markets, particularly where they are more demanding than local ones.