Sunday, 20 January 2013

What has the EU ever done for ME

Today’s rant is aimed at people who think the EU is a work of the devil; it is specifically aimed at my neighbours on a rainy island – Britain. In fact the EU was founded by people with mostly good intentions but incompetence issues (like most things in life).

Before I start my rant I should point out that although I will be concentrating on the good aspects of EU membership, I am aware that the EU is in many ways flawed and should undergo reforms to make it more democratic for everyone involved.

So, here it is: my handy cut-out-and-keep-guide why being in the EU is largely to your advantage.

1. You can travel and relocate easily within Europe.
 This is, or should be,a no-brainer, fancy working in Paris for a while? Or Rome? Well, you can now,     thanks to the EU without having to apply for visas. If you are annoyed at/ scared by all the Eastern Europeans “flocking to the UK” (to loosely quote someone who most definitely is not a bigot) just try to how many Brits have flocked to the continent stealing jobs from hard-working Europeans.
      So, you may not want to relocate to mainland Europe but, admit it, isn’t travelling within Europe not so much easier, friendlier and more efficient since all we need to do nowadays is flash our passports to the friendly man or woman at the airport or in some cases just walk across the border.
      Personally, I would be sold to the idea of a united Europe at this point; for the more hard-core sceptics, however, points 2 and 3:

      2. You live in a peaceful country.
If, like most people currently alive, you were born after 1945, chances are that you never had to hide out in underground bunkers hiding from bombs dropped by your friendly neighbour country Germany or the UK (delete as appropriate), wave your (in extreme cases) 14 year old son off to war, leave your home over night and be separated from your family, be raped/killed/ raped and then killed by the declared enemy. Granted, we are still doing it to other countries but they are further away and tend not to fight back on your home soil. The EU has helped keep the peace between European neighbours partly by getting representatives of each country round a table and talk things through (talking is always preferable to shooting IMO) and partly because the EU makes travelling easier for average Joe. If you wonder how that works try imagining believing the war propaganda of dirty French, merciless Germans and shop keeping but otherwise harmless and simple Britons today when you have probably met some Germans, Frenchmen or Brits.

3.You pay low(er) food prices
Rumour has it that in Britain and the rest of Europe people like to buy cheap food. Seeing that the customer is always right supermarkets try to pay farmers as little as possible. When it comes to milk farmers receive an average of 25p per litre while it costs them an average of 30p to produce.  So, dairy farmers tend to operate making a loss. To offset that loss (and to survive) lots of farmers turn to help from the EU. In 2008 the UK received € 3,755 million (or roughly £3,110 million) worth of farming subsidies, which works out as an average of €12,517 per farm (roughly £ 10,400).
While I’m not saying that the status quo is in any way fair or sensible let’s employ a quick thought experiment as to what would happen, if Britain was to leave the EU.
a)      Farmers continue having to sell milk at a loss without EU subsidies, farms go out of business, there will be food shortages, supermarkets would have to import more and whilst upping their contribution to carbon emission food prices would rise. 
b)      Supermarkets begrudgingly will pay farmers more and need to recover their losses from, you, the consumer, by putting up food prices. 
c)       Supermarkets refuse to pay farmers more, but the government thankfully steps in and food prices don’t rise any more than usual. But your taxes will.


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