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Some big truths about the EU – EC London response to Leo McKinstry in the Daily Express, 15 March

March 15th, 2012

Response posted on The Daily Express website on 15th March 2012

Some big truths about the EU – A few figures – not from the EC but the UK government

The UK economy benefits from the single market alone to the tune of between £30 bn and £90 bn annually or between £1 100 and £3 300 per household (27m households in UK) per annum, according to the UK government – thus in 2011 outweighing the UK’s net contribution to the EU budget by a rough multiple of between 5 and 15.

Exports to other EU countries account for 51 per cent of the UK’s exports of goods and services, worth £200 billion.

The UK exports nearly twice as much to Belgium (£13 billion in 2011) nearly three times as much to the Netherlands (£19 billion) and four times as much to Germany (£27.5 billion) as to China (£7 billion). Key to increasing exports to China is opening up Chinese markets – the EU single market of 500 million people has much more negotiating clout to do that than any Member State acting alone.

In terms of foreign investment in the economy, the UK is rated third in the world behind the US and France and ahead of Germany with $1.125 trillion of FDI stock in the UK in 2009. Many of those investors make very clear that EU membership is a key driver of their investment here and the jobs it creates

Finally, it is a complete myth that “Brussels” imposes reams of regulation on the UK. This is a real “big lie”. The support of an overwhelming majority of Member State Ministers is required for all EU laws. The UK has never once been outvoted on a financial services measure and extremely rarely on anything else – instead thanks to its voting power and political clout it is often able to ensure that rules suit the UK.

But were the UK to leave the EU but remain a member of the European Economic Area (like Norway) then the EU WOULD be imposing rules on the UK without UK input.

The UK would continue to contribute to the EU budget and would continue to be bound by single market rules – the framework that governs trade within the EU and which allows UK business to deal with one set of rules rather than 26 different sets when exporting to EU Member States. But UK Ministers and MEPs would no longer have any say in making those rules.

Mark English
Head of Media, European Commission Representation in the UK


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Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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