Centre for European Reform's analysis shows benefits of EU

Centre for European Reform's analysis shows benefits of EU

Press quote (The Guardian)
Phillip Inman
09 June 2014

Centre for European Reform's report argues that EU rules do not place large burdens on the British economy as a whole

If Ukip felt bruised as it departed Newark 7,000 votes shy of victory, maybe it should consider that tougher tests lie ahead. One reason Nigel Farage and his party could find themselves on the back foot more often is the emergence of a more robust defence of the European Union.

The Centre for European Reform think-tank produced its final report on Monday and as a dissection of Britain's economic relationship with the rest of the EU, it is hard to beat.

The report is not a gung-ho defence of the union. It admits there are some "easy gains from quitting the EU". There is the net contribution to the budget and common agricultural policy, for instance, though even here the UK would still need to make a contribution, just as Norway and Switzerland do, and many of our farmers would need subsidies to stay in business.

More importantly, it tackles head-on the broader claims for life outside the EU: that it would allow more open trade links; that red tape could be cut; that immigration could be stemmed; and the UK would win back its net contribution to the EU's budget, which the Treasury estimates will be 0.5% of GDP per year between 2014 and 2020.

Each is tackled, with the overriding message that "EU rules do not place large burdens on the British economy as a whole, or large constraints upon British exports to countries outside Europe".

The CER's arguments will be hard to ignore. And yet, the objection to the apparent loss of power to distant authorities, and bewilderment at the influx of workers, seems likely to remain.

In one of the excerpts on immigration, the report says: "A smaller proportion of EU immigrants receive benefits than do Britons, and EU migrants are net contributors to the public finances."

At the moment, such reasoned argument is struggling to be heard above the Ukip clamour. If mainstream parties want to counter Farage, they should harness the CER's hard-nosed analysis.