Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The United Kingdom and the EU - Going it alone and trading with others!

A real challenge for me has come in the shape of those who reckon that life as an independent nation would be one of the greatest boons those of us left on these shores might have. "If we leave the EU then we can choose who we trade with. " people tell me - not only that but they are convinced that should we leave the EU then Commonwealth nations, America and loads of other nations (including EU members would be falling over themselves to buy from us.

But is this an accurate position to occupy?

If we were to leave the EU then the UK would merely need to negotiate trade agreements with nations (and even EU member states) to trade with them in a mutually beneficial way - and, as under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, we would have two years to negotiate a new agreement on trade, we would be able to continue exactly as we were when we were in Europe with regard to EU member states - so we would lose nothing and gain our own sovereignty. We cannot lose.

And of course the Commonwealth, America and other nations outside of the EU would be keen to arrange trade agreements with us so we'd have the best of it everywhere. We'd be like Norway and they are doing alright out of it!

"Wait a minute," says the 'stay' side of the argument, "What makes you think the US or the Commonwealth will be that keen to make trade deals. Obama said that that wouldn't happen anytime soon!"

And you know what, they are right. In fact, it seems Article 50 comes into effect when we sign on the line to leave (not when we think we need it to come into effect) and so, from signing to agreements, we have but 24 months of continuing as we were (and if that's good for us, why are we leaving?) and then we would need a new agreement in place - which surely wouldn't be as beneficial as being a member nation - it it was, where's the benefit in joining anyway?

Should no agreement be made then we would be subject to the agreed World Trade Organisation's (WTO) tariffs and this would mean that we would be facing an additional bill somewhere around 2% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which in real terms means something around £7.5 billion - which suddenly makes leaving rather unattractive - in fact it means that what we have saved will be spent just compensating for the exit.

And then we might just find that new regulations and 'Buy European' campaigns, benefits for EU member states, discounts and other 'anti-UK' trade measures might see us well and truly becoming the poor man in the area. Still, on the bright side, rather than see economic migrants coming to our shores, we'd probably be exporting them!

Seems to me that the potential of leaving so we can stop sending money to Europe so we can compensate out manufacturing and exporting folk (so where's the money for the NHS coming from if we've already committed it in this area?) is foolish. Once we are out the EU can create new legislation and  impose demands upon us that we will have no say in - and will potentially leave us hamstrung.

I'm beginning to think that I'd rather be an effective member of the EU than a new 'third world nation' just off the coast of the world looking to live off of handouts and calling in old relationships (which might confirm that the days of Empire don't have the legacy we think  they have)!


Ray Barnes said...

Like you Vic I am beginning to be more in favour of staying in than leaving. I was one of those who in the 70's voted to stay out rather than join what was very much an unknown quantity.
Europe was a very animal in those days and I still believe it was the right way to vote.
Now, however, the world has changed and so has our status in that world, and though my heart still says "go it alone", my brain tells me, "stay".

Ray Barnes said...

That should have read "Europe was a very different animal"

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

In deed - To leave would be folly in the light of firm information, for who can predict tomorrow's fluctuations with regards to Europe, only hindsight will do that for us. But it does seems to stay is the only intelligent option now, anything else would condemn us to insignificance.

Thanks for the post - always good to hear from you :-)


Deborah Salmon said...

In talking to many people on this the problem is not just trade. The problem that a lot of things have happened without the full knowledge of the British people.More and more integration has happened to the point that it is not trade agreements that Europe have a say in but a lot of decisions. I do not myself understand how I can hold accountable a group that is so far removed from me and that I do not know. We have enough problems holding our own politicians accountable to do the right thing and we think adding another layer of politicians, another parliament etc things will be any different ( European court is morally superior and there is no corruption?)How do we hold them to account.
How does Britain maintain its own interests if it can be over ruled?
Who is overseeing the wastefulness of the European parliament?
What is happening to countries who have to meet a finacial criteria but quickly it emerges there economy is shaky and have to be baled out?
Actually the answers often lie in the questions and people want to know ( as they already see) where is is not working and being white washed over. If you want something to work well you address the issues and concerns and do something about it. I do not want to be in Europe if they do not tackle valid concerns of people.
The fact that it is so intergrated that we cant get out to me is worrying.People therefore no longer and will just have to lump it. Democratic? I think not.

Deborah Salmon said...

Have a voice it was meant to say near the end :)