Whilst Birch points out in a pro EU argument8 that variable tax rates ‘…. would enhance the risk involved of signing long term contracts with fixed prices’ and markets would benefit from open borders especially to large foreign investors. By comparison, the Institute of Directors commissioned a cost benefit analysis by City Accountants Chantry Vellacott who state that the costs of EU membership to Britain outweighed benefits by i?? 15 – i?? 25 billion per year and envisaged that this amount could double on joining the Euro.
9 In addition the International Trade Commission for US congress conducted their own study as to the effects of British interest in joining the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and their conclusion in relation to this was that Britain was likely to be better off and at least would be no worse economically, without the other ties and obligations currently imposed by the EU. 10 A point which was confirmed by Neil Kinnock on the Today Programme on 1st February 200110b when he stated in answer to the question of reprisals if we were to withdraw from the EU, ‘…
there certainly wouldn’t be any retaliation by our fellow democracies’. Groups of Euro sceptics have repeatedly highlighted this point, Keith Marsden11 has further expanded this very possibility where he compares the performances of both the EU and NAFTA, at the time of writing NAFTA comes out the economically better option. In addition, a study by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research initially stated that 3. 5 million jobs in Britain were dependant upon EU membership.
However, these results were qualified by it’s (NIESR) Director who stated that the jobs did not depend upon membership of the EU just trade with it. He further stated that there was no reason why trade with the EU would stop if the membership was terminated, especially as Britain imported more from the Union than it exported. The effects of the last years of EU membership far from bringing an across the board socio/economic prosperity seems to correlate with the example previous shown of bureaucratic mismanagement regarding application the CAP.
Figures taken from the recently published report from the DTI on Bankruptcy levels show that far from benefiting from our time of EU integration the poorer sections of British society have become drastically worse off and far more are involved in the spiral of debt, in direct contrast to the circumstances of the more affluent. Fig 1. Bankruptcies in England and Wales – Industrial Analysis Source: DTI. Statistics and Analysis Directorate:
Statistics release – 7 November 200312 The joint statement from the British and the Belgian PMs in preparation for the Lisbon Summit13 raises the issue of the small firm’s charter. Using rhetoric the initiatives surrounding the instigation of the charter sound inspiring to the potential entrepreneur but at what level is it a realistic dream, it states, ‘… Help for small firms… and better availability of venture capital… We must ensure that over burdensome regulation does not inhibit job creation.
‘ However, the shift in definition of the small business still results in many potential businesses falling short of the criterion, which defines them as a small business. Initiatives guided by the Small Firms charter and taken on a local level, for example the Forum of Private Business has slated the Small Business Rate Relief System (SBRR). They state that its application based upon the rateable value of the business as unfair and simply ‘taxation by the back door’.
14 The explanation being that a small business with a rateable value of i??8 thousand per annum could be a small specialized business in an area of high RV (75% of the businesses in Saddler street Durham come into this category)or a manufacturing business on a large Industrial park with low RV. This taken with the re-assertion of the main focus of the European social agenda as a commitment to full employment surely must have a knock on effect for those at the bottom of the social ladder with regards being involved in the moving back of boundaries (‘… over burdensome regulation… ‘) sounds familiar!
Moving on to the system of representation and the problems which are long term in both the voting system but especially the social elitism it serves to reinforce. Moving from membership of the EU to membership of NAFTA would at least remove one bureaucratic layer from our parliamentary system on the domestic front that of the MEP and multiple layers from the system on a European level. For all its claims to social and multi cultural representation, my own mini research using simply an internet search on Google typing in ‘MEP’ brought about some interesting results.
Using the first page of MEPs it generated and using the personal information therein out of the six profiles of mixed affiliations, four were Oxbridge graduates, one a Baroness and one a multi lingual ex-teacher and authoress. Prosperity for all as a slogan must mean by EU standards for all MEPs our democratically elected Brussels dwellers are receiving high levels of media coverage regarding ‘Eurostat and the invisible audit trail'(own italics) 15 and the ludicrous amounts claimed under the guise of living expenses.
Just how this converts to the prosperity of the ordinary citizen, those among us not of Oxbridge or titled stock, and those who either are employed or have set up for themselves as one-man operations or similar is not immediately clear. Perhaps the conversion involves the massive increases in bankruptcy declarations by the lower earners and the decrease in similar proceedings by those of Directorship status. The statistics mentioned of bureaucratic mismanagement of CAP and the current Eurostat situation makes the bureaucracy of the EU seem to be in direct conflict with the idea of Prosperity for All.
16 In the light of such a climate the increasing vociferousness of the euro sceptic has created an arena in which to Mr Blair failure concerning all things EU is not an option. Notes 1 Birch page 205 2 Birch page 203. 3 Kavanagh page 81 4 The Guardian June 26th 2003 5 Dunleavy page 49 6 ‘No’ campaign www. no-euro. com spring 2003. 7 bbc. co. uk/16/5/2003 8 Birch page 213 9 http://www. rogerhelmer. com/25/09/2003 10 http://www. rogerhelmer. com/25/09/2003 10b http://www. mori. com/polls/2001/eurosceptic. shtml 11 Marsden K. NAFTA and EMU: Some Comparisons. The European Journal May/June 2003.
12 Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Statistics and Analysis Directorate: Statistics release – 7 November 2003. 13 Joint statement by British and Belgian PMs www. number-10. gov. uk/output/page2779. asp 14 The Journal. October 7th 2003. Small Business Extra. Small business with a rateable value of over i?? 8ooo will be disqualified from relief and possibly surcharged to subsidise those businesses under the i?? 8000 threshold. 15 Eurostat is commissioned by the EU Commission to manage a large network of business contracts which collect, buy and publish data about the EU.
They are currently under investigation for serious financial irregularities, which, it is possible, may lead to the resignation of high-ranking Euro officials. More information may be found at a variety of sources, one useful source is www. eubusiness. com. 16 The Lisbon Agenda – Delivering Jobs and Prosperity for all Bibliography Birch A The British System of Government 10 Routledge 1998 Dunleavy P Developments in British Politics 7 Palgrave Kavanagh D British Politics Continuities and Change 4 Oxford Articles Marsden K. (2000) NAFTA and EMU: Some comparisons. The European Journal May/June 2000.
Department of Trade and Industry. Statistics and Analysis Directorate: Statistics release – 7 November 2oo3 http://217. 154. 27. 195/sd/in/insolv/table5. htm Forster A. 2002 Anti-Europeans, Anti-Marketeers and Eurosceptics: The Evolution and Influence of Labour and Conservative Opposition to Europe. The Political Quarterly 73. 3 299-308 Parker. G. The Brussels View. The Parliamentary Weekly. 3/11/2003 Issue 1059 vol 28 Help will only be a hindrance, says forum. The Journal Tuesday October 7th 2003 DTI :
The Lisbon Agenda – Delivering Jobs and Prosperity for all. http://www. dti. gov.uk/ministers/speeches/hewitt060202a. html World Wide Web British and Belgian PMs issue joint statement on EU’s way forward. 9. 11. 2003 http://www. number-10. gov. uk/output/page 2779. asp Prime Minister’s Speeches – 2000-Committed to Europe, Reforming Europe http://www. number-10. gov. uk/output/page1510. asp www. eubusiness. com www. news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/Europe/3236259. stm www. no-euro. com spring 2003. Mori – Better off out of the EU? http://www. mori. com/polls/2001/eurosceptic. shtml The benefits of EU membership are self-evident – aren’t they? http://www. rogerhelmer. com/selfevident. shtml.