European Union Mythbusters
I thought it was important to put some news from "Project Fact" on my website as there are a lot of myths going around.
Myth 1: "We pay the European Union £350 million a week"
Every member state makes a contribution to the budget of the European Union. This is agreed for a seven year period. The UK actually pays the lowest of any member as a percentage of the size of the economy.
The initial contribution amount for the United Kingdom is £18bn a year. However we get a rebate on this which lowers the amount to £13bn a year. This £5bn saving never leaves the treasury. So we pay £13bn a year to the EU. From this money the European Union spends around £4.5bn a year on projects in the UK. This goes towards our farmers, universities and certain regional projects. This spending would have to be replaced if we left the EU, which means the total net cost is £8.5bn.
In comparison, the UK government spends over £770bn a year in total. We spend over £140bn on the NHS, and over £240bn on welfare spending. The UKs sovereign debt currently stands at £1.56 trillion. If we saved our European Union membership contributions it would take 183 years to pay off the debt. This also does not take into account the benefits to our economy we get in increased trade and foreign investment due to our membership. This increases the size of our economy and hence our tax receipts.
Myth 2: "The European Union is undemocratic"
The exact structure of the European Union is widely misunderstood. There are four main bodies that are involved in the creation of EU laws:
The European Parliament – a wholly elected body with members from each member state. The UK has 73 members and we vote on them every five years.
The European Council – consists of the elected Prime Ministers and Presidents of every member state.
The European Commission – responsible for creating legislation. The 28 cabinet positions of the commission are agreed upon by the council and voted on by the Parliament. They play a similar role to the government/civil service in the UK.
The European Court of Justice – Responsible for ensuring EU law is implemented evenly across all members.
There are three ways EU laws enter into force:
Regulations: Which enter UK law immediately having been negotiated in the EU Council, which is composed of elected Governments and then voted on by Members of the European Parliament, who are directly elected by the public.
Treaty Obligations: Negotiated by heads of Government in the EU Council and ratified by the UK Parliament prior to the treaty signature, directly applicable from the moment of treaty signature.
Directives: Negotiated in the EU Council, voted on in the EU Parliament, and require an act of Parliament to implement because they give member states a choice in how the fundamentals are achieved.
All legislative and budgetary proposals are sent to the UK’s Parliament eight weeks in advance of Council deliberation on the matter. This allows us to read the proposals and raise concerns with both our MEP’s and through the Prime Minister. MEP’s have the same power to debate, amend and vote on legislation as MPs.
Myth 3: "We have no control of our border"
We retain total control of our border. We have never been a member of the Schengen free movement zone. Every person that enters the United Kingdom legally has had their documents checked by a UK Border Force officer.
We can refuse entrance to anyone who we believe presents a danger to “public policy, security or health”. We share databases of criminals between EU members so we can identify those who have previous convictions and stop them entering our country.
Nearly 6,000 European Economic Area nationals have been prevented from entering Britain since 2010.
Myth 4: "Over 2/3 of our laws are set by Brussels"
Independent experts at the House of Commons Library put the figure at 13%. In the last Parliament just 4 Acts of Parliament, out of a total of 1213, were to implement EU laws. Regularly we take Laws that the European Union directives pass down to us and make them stronger. For example, our implementation of the agency workers directive was ‘gold plated’ meaning we implemented even further legislation than was needed.
Many EU laws also implement international regulations that we would sign up to outside the European Union. For example, the regulations that grew from the Financial Crisis in 2008 known as the Basel III accords. These have been implemented by the Group of Ten which includes the US, Japan and Canada as well as many more voluntary countries. This regulation is held up as one of the most costly regulations by leave campaigners but it was put into place to prevent a repeat of the crisis of 2008.
Myth 5: "More countries are going to join the European Union and be able to come to our country"
Countries like Turkey joining the European Union in the foreseeable future is highly unlikely. Turkey has been on the path to join the European Union since 1987. In the 29 years since they have passed 1 of the 35 tests they need to pass to join. Even if they do pass the tests, every current member has a veto over the accession, and all national parliaments would need to agree.
Myth 6: "If we stay we will end up in a United States of Europe"
Thanks to the Prime Minister’s renegotiation, Britain will has an opt-out from ‘ever closer union’ – meaning we will never be part of a European super state. And we will never join the Euro; nor will taxpayers be responsible for Eurozone bailouts; nor will British businesses be discriminated against for not adopting the single currency.
Furthermore, under the European Union Act 2011, which the British Government passed as a sovereign body, any new project which would see power passed to the European Union can only be achieved with a referendum. Claims that we will see an EU Army, for example, could only include us if the majority of the population agrees.