Thursday, 31 January 2013

Should the UK stay in the European Union?

As I am most of you will know there has been a lot of controversy over whether or nor Britain would be better off in the European Union recently. David Cameron is planning a national vote on whether Britain should quit the European Union. Cameron made a speech outlining the plans for a referendum if the Conservatives win the next election earlier this month. Ed Miliband said the speech made our prime minister seem 'weak' and 'driven by his party', and not in the national interest.

The referendum would be the first of its kind for more than 40 years.

I want to talk today about how Europe affects people's lives in the UK, so you might be slightly better informed and perhaps able to pick a 'stay' or 'go' side. The United Kingdom is a member of the European Union but isn't part of the single currency, the Euro. Being in the EU means Britain has a trade bloc (no quotas or tariffs for exporting goods and services within the EU). The EU also allows free travel of labour within it, called the internal market. UK citizens are free to move, live, study and trade anywhere within the EU. This also affects you when you go on holiday within the European Union because there are no customs limits. There are also no border controls across most of the EU either - the UK is one exception to that rule.

Many areas of Europe have benefited from the Trans-European networks policy with new roads and transport networks designed to make it easier for the different countries to transport goods and services across the EU.

There are also understandings on public health, the environment, consumer protection, transport, social policy, plus economic, social and territorial cohesion. There are common foreign, security and defence policies which run alongside the policies of member states although there is no European army or single European foreign policy.

Euro MPs don't set our taxes or decide if a local school or hospital's going to close, but they do have a big influence on how we live our lives. They make decisions in Brussels that directly affect our jobs, our family lives, the health care we get, rules about recycling and energy.

MEPs passed a law a few years ago significantly cutting the cost of texting from abroad. Roaming rates were also cut. The Working Time Directive - which gives workers the right to certain amounts of rest, stops excessive night work and gives people a minimum amount of holiday every year - means nurses and doctors are limited to a 48-hour working week. However there are also many reasons as to why Britain should leave the EU, such as the annual £4 billion membership fee. 

There are many websites where you can have your say in the debate, and if you're old enough please use your vote! I found this great website which sums it all up very well; http://debatewise.org/debates/784-the-uk-should-leave-the-european-union/