What has the EU ever done for us?

The European Union has been a force for good in Europe. It has supported many positive principles and provided many benefits:

  • Net Benefit – after our EU contributions are taken into account we profit by £62bn-£78bn a year.
  • Freedom – the freedom to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe.
  • Farm subsidies – The EU also provides considerable subsidies to British farmers, helping to bolster agriculture and ensure job stability for the 476,000 directly involved in farming, and those working in sectors related to the industry.
  • Holidays – ease of travel within the EU; right to receive emergency healthcare;  blacklist of ‘dangerous airlines’; compensation for cancellations; reductions in mobile roaming fees.
  • Peace – the EU has for 60 years been the foundation of peace between European neighbours after centuries of bloodshed; It furthermore assisted the extraordinary political, social and economic transformation of 13 former dictatorships, now EU members, since 1980.
  • Trade – 57% of our trade is with the EU.
  • Developmental Funding – structural funding to areas hit by industrial decline.
  • Environment – clean beaches and rivers; cleaner air; lead free petrol; restrictions on landfill dumping; a recycling culture.
  • Travel – cheaper mobile charges; cheaper air travel.
  • Consumer Protection – improved consumer protection and food labelling; a ban on growth hormones and other harmful food additives; better product safety.
  • Industry – single market competition bringing quality improvements and better industrial performance; break up of monopolies; EU-funded research and industrial collaboration.
  • Intellectual Property – Europe-wide patent and copyright protection.
  • Reduced Red Tape – no paperwork or customs for exports throughout the single market.
  • Currency Exchange – removal of commission on currency exchanges across the eurozone.
  • Education – funded opportunities for young people to undertake study or work placements abroad.
  • Health – access to European health services.
  • Work Protection – labour protection and enhanced social welfare; smoke-free workplaces; equal pay legislation; holiday entitlement; the right not to work more than a 48-hour week without overtime.
  • Animals – strongest wildlife protection in the world; improved animal welfare in food production.
  • Science – EU-funded research and industrial collaboration.
  • Collaborative Representation – EU representation in international forums; bloc EEA negotiation at the WTO.
  • Security – European arrest warrant; cross border policing to combat human trafficking, arms and drug smuggling; counter terrorism intelligence; European civil and military co-operation in post-conflict zones in Europe and Africa; EU diplomatic efforts to uphold the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
  • Human Rights – support for democracy and human rights across Europe and beyond.
  • Quality of Life – investment across Europe contributing to better living standards and educational, social and cultural capital.

Unless specified otherwise the items on this list are derived from Simon Sweeney, Lecturer in international political economy.