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A report that highlights the true value of our EU membership

The CEBR provide fresh evidence that 3.1 million British jobs are currently linked to EU exports

Will Straw
Sunday 18 October 2015 13:05 BST
Following a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, David Cameron said he was confident of getting a good deal for Britain
Following a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, David Cameron said he was confident of getting a good deal for Britain (Reuters)

When considering Britain’s membership of the EU, people will rightly ask themselves whether Britain best seizes new opportunities and achieves greater prosperity in the future ‘in’ or ‘out’. Let's not just debate our country today but what it can be tomorrow.

‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ believes there is no false choice between our strength around the world and our leadership within Europe. Europe isn’t perfect and needs reform, but when it works it gives us the best of both worlds, delivering better jobs, higher wages and lower prices here at home.

That’s why our campaign will make a positive case for Europe, outlining the benefits it brings both today and tomorrow for our economy, our security and our place in the world, as well as explaining the risks of leaving. In doing so we reject exaggeration in favour of evidence.

Today, a new, independent report outlines the value of our membership to all of us, and more importantly the future gains our membership may bring to Britain in the years ahead.

The research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research shows that the overall contribution to our economy from exports to the EU was £187 billion last year, and that it could rise by almost half again to £277 billion a year by 2030.

With widespread economic reform across Europe, even greater economic gains are available to us. The CEBR projects that giving British firms greater access to European markets in energy, transport and digital services, combined with new global trade deals, could add £58 billion a year to the UK economy by 2030 – that’s nearly £1,000 per person. This is the result of falling costs of trade and greater competition, which increase innovation and investment, drive down prices and push up wages through higher productivity.

The CEBR also provide fresh evidence that 3.1 million British jobs are currently linked to our exports to the EU, something other experts have supported in the past. They conclude that in the future economic co-operation could bring a further 790,000 jobs to Britain by 2030.

British business can grow and families will be better off if Europe’s tariff-free trading area is extended.

This is not the vision of some “EU Superstate” that the ‘out’ campaigns desperately try to paint, but a union of economic co-operation that brings benefits direct to the back pockets of British families. We can reap these rewards while also remaining an independent nation within Europe, outside of the Eurozone and simultaneously increasing our trade links with fast-growing economies. But it’s a vision we can only achieve if we remain in Europe.

We cannot consider the economics of Britain’s membership solely through our annual contribution; we must take into account the current and future benefits of trade, investment and job creation which could be cut off if we left Europe.

We cannot know for sure what would be lost because the ‘out’ campaigns themselves cannot tell us what ‘out’ means, or what model of ‘out’ they themselves would seek.

The fundamental weakness of the various ‘out’ campaigns is their assumption that we can pick and choose the rules of membership we want to retain or lose. If Britain left but tried to keep access to the single market, like Norway, we would still have pay in to the EU budget, accept the free movement of people and abide by all the rules and regulations, just with no influence over them. Or if Britain decoupled entirely from the EU, we would have to trade without free access to the single market and with new tariffs pushing up costs for consumers here at home. Either way Britain would not be at the table ensuring Europe works in the interests of British families and businesses. We’d be rule-takers, not rule-makers.

Leading in Europe is, of course, not just about pounds and pence. We have always been a proud, outward looking nation and would be diminished on the world stage if we turned in on ourselves. Our membership affords greater wellbeing through employment protections, the ability to travel or study freely and greater protection from climate pollution. These are all arguments we will be making in the months ahead.

From within Europe we have a clear path to increased prosperity and economic security, with the chance to boost our economy even further in the years ahead. The ‘out ‘campaigns have already resorted to attacks – against each other as well as those campaigning to remain – because they do not have a compelling argument with competing evidence.

By contrast, we will urge people to reject the risk of the unknown and the false promise of standing alone and to embrace the opportunity and potential offered to British families and businesses by our membership of Europe, now and into the future.

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