by Charles Kennedy MP, President of the European Movement///
As the debate around Britain’s EU membership intensifies ahead of the European Parliament elections on 22 May, it is worth remembering the advantages the EU brings to its members.
9 May marks the beginning of a process of cooperation, which intended to make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable. We call it Europe Day.
The process that was set in motion that day was based on principles like democracy, open markets, free trade, the respect for the rule of law and human rights, principles at the very core of British identity, as relevant today as they were 64 years ago.
The journey that started on 9 May 1950 produced a long period of peace and prosperity and laid the foundations for the spread of those founding principles across the European continent, eventually bringing together Eastern and Western Europe, which had been dramatically divided after the end of World War II. It led to the creation of a community of 28 nations, which have come together in partnership to form an economy worth £11 trillion, the biggest in the world, and a market of 500 million people, where 1 set of rules has replaced 28, making easier the exchange of goods and best practices in the service of common good.
The UK is at the core of that community, intimately linked with that market. 50% of foreign direct investment to Britain comes from other EU member states. Over 40% of our exports go to the EU and they are tariff-free. These exports to EU countries help to support 4.2 million UK jobs and are worth £211 billion to the economy.
But the EU is more than just a market, it is the springboard upon which Britain can launch its global ambitions, promote its interests and values around the globe, the very values that form the founding principles of European integration.
Today we live in a world where the globalisation of economic activity has come to challenge our economic model. Energy competition threatens our independence. Climate change and international crime posse threats that do not recognise borders. We live in an interconnected world, our challenges are international and so should be the answers we give. The EU is the vehicle that empower us to do exactly that.
As we mark the 9th of May, talk of leaving the European Union doesn’t just threaten jobs and weakens Britain’s economic wellbeing. It also risks marginalising us, leading to loss of influence, both in Europe and globally. Britain should remain a committed member of the EU, closely engaged with continuing efforts to ensure that the process that begun in 1950 continues to guarantee peace and prosperity for its member states and their citizens.
Author : European Movement UK