Europe Day: keep the flag flying

Today, celebrations will take place to mark Europe Day. They honour a speech made 64 years ago, on 9 May 1950, by French Foreign Minister Robert Schumann in which he proposed a coal and steel union with Germany. It ensured peace between the two countries and led to the setting up of the European Economic Community several years later.

That, in turn, has become the 28-country-strong European Union we know today.

France accepted from the outset that working together with its neighbours would give it a greater influence on the world stage. The UK, by contrast, has often feared that its EU membership would have the opposite effect.

Indeed the two countries have taken very different approaches to the EU over the years.

Both were part of the negotiations to set up the European Economic Community in the 1950s, but Britain walked away from the table. France played a much cleverer game: it threatened to leave and managed to secure some very valuable concessions to keep it there.

Britain set up a free trade agreement with the EEC instead – but soon came to realise that accepting trade rules without having a say over them was a poor substitute for membership. Within a few years it began negotiations to join, achieving its aim in 1973.

Now, three million British jobs depend directly on our EU membership, and a further million are indirectly linked to the EU. Britain pays around £4 billion each year towards the EU budget but, according to even the most conservative of estimates, we gain trade benefits worth £30 billion.

All of which makes any prospect of British withdrawal look like an act of perversion. Sure, the EU has some flaws that need resolving, but pulling out would be like shooting ourselves in the foot.

It could also nix my plans to move to France. Freedom of movement is one of the greatest benefits of EU membership – along with continued peace and prosperity, of course.

This entry was published on Friday, 9 May 2014 at 07:41. It’s filed under News and politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Europe Day: keep the flag flying

  1. jenny webb on said:

    Indeed we had a service in the place j
    Jasmin-lots of speeches-not mentioning Uk involvement as it is not celebrated in the UK and Dick Bogg-now a councillor -did not lay a wreath. There was also a procession of people in old uniforms and period costumes in WW2 vehicles, army and civilian. After to the Salle de Carbonnier for drinks, sausage and prunes with the mayor-all v good and no rain.
    Re EU what about the Scots? The whole Union Jack will have to be altered-so no blue! Also Scots in other EU countries will lose their health rights. Jx

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