EU, UK and French flags

Raise a cheer: Europe Day

As France and other countries celebrate Europe Day today, all mention of the European Union in the UK is in hushed tones. A referendum on Britain’s continued membership now looms in the next couple of years.

The country – and the ruling Conservative government in particular – is likely to tear itself apart in the run up to the poll.

Fortunately, there is some hope for Britons living in other parts of Europe, including France. The latest survey for The Times found that 34% of voters would definitely opt to stay in the EU, while just 18% would be certain to vote to leave.

If you exclude Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph readers from the survey, the percentages jump to 97% to 3%. (OK, I made that last bit up, but it probably isn’t too far from the truth.)

Some 78% of British businesses, big and small, want to stay in. They think leaving the EU will harm Britain’s economic recovery. They fear that nervousness about the outcome will send foreign investors scurrying to other parts of Europe.

France seems to have an easier relationship with the European Union than Britain. That isn’t to say it isn’t a demanding participant, but its place at Europe’s table is rarely in question.

Unlike Britain, which walked away from talks to set up the European Coal and Steel Community in the 1950s, France gained concessions that have served it well over the years.

Britain had to come crawling back to its neighbours on three separate occasions before it was able to join. French president Charles de Gaulle famously rejected the UK’s application for membership twice – first in 1963 and then again in 1967. Finally, in 1973, the UK joined the club.

To quit now would be a huge economic mistake for Britain. To imagine that replicating Norway’s approach is a viable alternative is nonsense: Oslo has to accept EU laws with no say over them.

Some 3 million jobs in Britain depend directly on the UK’s membership of the EU, and 1 million more are indirectly linked to our place in the EU. Putting those in jeopardy would be foolhardy at best.

“3 million jobs in Britain depend directly on UK membership of the EU, and 1 million more are indirectly linked to it.”

I can only hope that the referendum will settle the issue.

For one thing, it would enable British expats in France and other parts of Europe to breathe easily. Their right to live, work and enjoy the many day-to-day benefits of European membership – from lower mobile phone bills to free access to healthcare – would remain intact.

Today, on Europe Day, that has to be worth celebrating.

This entry was published on Saturday, 9 May 2015 at 07:40. It’s filed under News and politics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “Raise a cheer: Europe Day

  1. thanks for this post. thanks for reminding me that uk fought hard to get EU membership. many will have forgotten that, and uk have gained a lot from EU membership. hope that cameron can bring in some controls over overspending budgets and insist on their finances being audited and passed before any more money can be handed over. and maybe have a watchdog composed of the whole membership to prevent excesses by the MEPs. that might persuade the british to stay on. when u come to think of it, the uk had won quite a lot of concessions. the best concession is that we have our own currency, ( that only came about because of that historic event when the speculators forced the £ out of bed with the Euro. ) while still being able to trade with the rest of EU. that allows us to undercut the EU, when the Euro was strong; and sell more stuff to them.
    maybe for the future uk can ask for more opt out eg in some human rights issues and immigration and welfare. but if u look at it in perspective they are minor nigglings. the ease of trade with such a large bloc like the EU has done uk more good . i can understand the rest of the EU must envy the uk position vis a vis the EU. we get special treatment actually.

    • I am not suggesting the EU is perfect. I have yet to find a political system that is. Certainly, some things need to change. Having two parliaments, one in Brussels and one in Strasbourg, is wasteful, for example. However, like Britain and its rebate, giving up the Strasbourg parliament would be hard for France to swallow.

  2. Well said, and all true, both Graham and alifesgayadventure

    Let’s think about the benefits and stop for a second to analyze the jingoistic anti-EU slant perpetuated by those who are capitalising on issues such as EU influence over our laws and the current immigration hot potato.
    Waving the flag for isolating the UK did not win this week’s election, or we would be looking at a purple Prime Minister this morning

    .

  3. You are so right, I love you. Jx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: