By Vexen Crabtree 2016
The UK requires increased immigration in order to continue to function due to our ageing population. Our industries, welfare system, pensions and economy need more young workers imported from abroad.
Immigrants pay much more in taxes than they take as benefits. The Economist found this to be true in 20072 and it is true today.
Open labour markets benefit entire economic regions. The opposite - the nationalist raising of labour barriers against foreigners - has the same effect as trade tariffs: to distort the market, reduce wage efficiency and harm the economy as a whole. Ironically, attempting to secure "local jobs for local residents" has the effect of shrinking the economy, therefore reducing the long-term number of overall jobs.
Our ageing population is putting massive strain on pensions and welfare3: this can only be helped by accepting working-age immigrants. In the last 35 years (up to 2007) the over-65s demographic group grew by 31%, the fastest of all age groupings4, whilst the under-16s shrunk from 26% to 19% of the total population4. "Each increase in life expectancy of one year adds about £12 billion to the aggregate pension liabilities of FTSE 100 companies"5. Pensions will continue to become increasingly costly, their benefits to be squeezed. The occasional addition of new states to the EU bloc are met with a healthy influx of young workers, balancing the demographic scales and helping to keep welfare systems and pensions afloat.
Cheap labourers work in industries that our population avoid such as construction and food processing6.
Nearly half the new doctors and nurses employed in the National Health Service have qualified abroad9 and we still have shortages of medical staff.
Immigrants use fewer NHS services than Brits because they are younger10 and tend to go home before they age. Through taxes, they contribute (much) more to the NHS than they take. Obesity, smoking and drinking are much costlier to the NHS than immigration.
Freedom Against Arbitrary Barriers: In the modern world, people are free to do as they please as long as they trespass against no laws. There is no reason to arbitrarily inhibit people's travel simply because locals do not like their culture.
And two other points:
Island History: As a nation we are poor at learning languages, was founded by immigrants and have an imperial history wherein we forced many to Britain as slaves11. 9% of Brits work abroad12 and there are 1.3 million British expats in Europe according to a United Nations estimate13. So there is a horrible, ignorant and hypocritical bent to much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric used by some of our less reasonable compatriots.
Source: Ipsos MORI poll (2016)14.
Much of the UK is misled by sensationalist news articles on immigration15. Even pro-European Brits think there are twice as many EU immigrants than there really are - which is 5% of the population14. Likewise, there are over 700,000 employment benefits claimants in the UK, but despite outcry in the press, the vast majority are British. For example, only 10,730 come from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia combined, and, there are at least 30,000 British citizens claiming benefits in the EU, often receiving more generous payments than foreigners do in the UK16.
More: The above bullet points are the summary from: The Benefits to the UK of Immigration.
Increased World Power: Europe faces serious political challenges from Russia, China and in the Middle East. When the EU speaks with a single voice, entire regions of the world can be swayed17. The UK simply cannot influence the world in the same way when standing alone.
> > See: The Power of Solidarity: Why the UK Should Stay in the EU.
Promotion of regional democracy: The carrot of EU membership pushed several European countries into democracy as a result of the Copenhagen Criteria for membership (democracy, free market economy, observance of human and minority rights, and political stability)18,19,20. This continues today, with Ukraine and Turkey enacting reforms to enable closer ties with EU (if not actual membership). The UK, standing alone, exerts no such positive influence.
> > See: The European Union and the Promotion of Democracy.
The ability to legislate against large multinationals is undermined when nation-states act alone. Modern large corporations can outmanouvre governments and therefore evade the law21. If one country tightens up quality control, industrial regulation or raises employee benefits, modern companies can easily move production abroad22. Governments are under pressure to not improve legislation.23. The heads of large companies have massive power over staff, employment, industry, national economies and the environment and yet are not elected nor publicly accountable for their actions (which are sometimes damaging to large numbers of people24). Supranational organisations like the UN and the EU provide a counterbalance. For example "the EU has taken on multinational giants like Microsoft, Samsung and Toshiba for unfair competition. The UK would not be able to do this alone"25. By encouraging governments to work in tandem, and because they are staffed by those on the pay roll of elected governments, such international politics can bring democracies back into power26,27.
“Nation-states, some argue, are too small to be able to influence global change, and too large to respond effectively to the pressures for increased flexibility and competitiveness, or as Giddens put it 'too small to solve the big problems, but also too large to solve the small ones'.”
We clearly need multinational governmental bodies to control multinational corporations. Not only will this bring capitalism back under the protective arms of democracy, but it will also solve the second problem identified by Held and Giddens: It will allow national governments to concentrate more on the small problems of national well-being.
> > See: Multinational Corporations Versus Democracy: The Fight Between Commercialism and Nation States.
No real loss of power:
“The UK has voted "no" more than any other government since 2009 (the previous record holder was Austria). Although we have been out-voted on 55 pieces of legislation from 1999 to 2014, it is worth noting that we have voted "yes" on 2466 policies in the same period. So the rate we have been denied what we wanted is actually very small - around 2%.29”
Access to free emergency health care31 via the European Health Insurance Card. "EU membership... gives UK citizens travelling in other European countries the right to access free or cheaper public healthcare"32. When Europeans use the UK's NHS, their governments pay (just like the UK government pays when Brits use healthcare services abroad)33 - in this sense, there is no such thing as 'health tourism' within the EU34. The deal is that EU citizens pay local prices for healthcare, and countries cannot charge foreigners more. In other words, the EU's scheme on healthcare is good for all travellers, and is fair for all.35
Overall, the UK benefits massively from European co-operation on health services. 42 million Brits travel abroad every year37, and treating them in Europe "costs five times more than equivalent cost to NHS"37; and imagine if we had to pay the costs of the millions of Brits who have retired in the Mediterranean. The UK benefits from EU membership greatly in this regard.
Time and efficiency. The EHIC's ease-of-use saves time, and there's no requirement to organize health care cover on a country-by-country basis when travelling in the EU.
The Erasmus programme allows students to study for short periods of time in any EU country, providing a rich choice of valuable experiences for tens of thousands of UK students39. "The possibility to study abroad is considered positive by 84% of EU citizens"40. The programme has replaced and massively simplified a historical mesh of inter-country agreements with a single framework.
The UK does not have the bargaining power to achieve this on its own and cannot extend its jurisdiction into the EU once we leave. Imagine the massive time and effort, and constant disagreements, which would result from attempting bilateral deals on a country-by-country basis to achieve the same rights.
These bullet points are abbreviated from The Economic Benefits to the UK of Remaining in the EU; click each one for details and references.
There are also indirect benefits that save the UK money and provide other essential benefits (only 2 are directly relevant that aren't already mentioned on this page - but the others show benefits we'd accrue if we were members of Schengen):
European Union bodies such as Eurojust and Europol help us easily work with all other EU countries to combat terrorism and "to tackle international organised crime such as drug smuggling, people trafficking and money laundering"25. The EU is uniquely placed to be able to monitor terrorists' financial transactions, international fraud and the movement of criminals from country to country42. The European Arrest Warrant simplified the system for the UK to reach into Europe to prosecute criminals and sped up the process from a year to just 48 days on average25,43. Likewise as a member of the EU it is easier for other countries to extradite their criminals from the UK so they can face justice at their home countries' expense. In 2014, the UK made more requests for European Arrest Warrants than any other EU member44, and we are also the 4th largest user of Eurojust, requesting 107 cases45. A head of the UK's Association of Chief Police Officers warns that if we left the EU "criminals would see Britain as a safe haven ... as it would take longer to extradite them"46. And a former head of the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK says "we rely very heavily on the EU criminal justice measures [especially with] terrorism, people trafficking, cyber-crime, sexual exploitation, trafficking of children and paedophilia"47. The ability for EU member states to share information and co-ordinate responses in several countries at once is "vital to the UK's security"48. The more support we give the EU, the better its crime-fighting ability is, and, the more we get out of it in return, as one of the heaviest users of EU's judicial services. There are many such hidden benefits to being a member of the European Union.”
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is not part of the EU50. Thankfully, this means that if we left the EU the mass of case law that has built up around the ECHR will still remain valid. And, therefore, despite what many believe, leaving the EU will not reverse any of the "barmy" decisions made by the ECHR. In many cases that are reported in the UK media, cases that look daft are perfectly reasonable, but the sensationalist angle taken by the media serve to distort and scapegoat the ECHR. All decisions are scrutinized carefully for their long-term effects and for the purpose of justice - but the way they are reported sometimes, you'd think decisions were made simply for the purpose of creating ludicrous surreal entertainment. Always read deeper than what is portrayed in the tabloids before coming to conclusions. This point is especially made by the requirement for me to even include this section on this page: most people are misled into thinking the ECHR is part of the EU because tabloids are so lazy with their presentation of facts.
Current edition: 2016 Apr 30
Last Modified: 2017 Aug 15
Parent page: United Kingdom: National Successes and Social Failures
Advantages of Membership:
Benefits of the UK Remaining in the EUThe Economic Benefits to the UK of Remaining in the EUThe Power of Solidarity: Why the UK Should Stay in the EUConsumer PowerThe Promotion of Regional and National DemocracyCrime Fighting Within the EU: Why Should the UK Stay in Europe?Benefits of EU Membership: The Efficiency and Savings of Joint Endeavours
All #tags used on this page - click for more:
The Independent. UK newspaper. See Which are the Best and Worst Newspapers in the UK?. Respectable and generally well researched UK broadsheet newspaper.
The Guardian. UK newspaper. See Which are the Best and Worst Newspapers in the UK?. Respectable and generally well researched UK broadsheet newspaper..
The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See vexen.co.uk/references.html#Economist for some commentary on this source..
(2016) Europe & You: South West. Published by The In Campaign Ltd, London, UK. Dated January / February 2016. A newspaper-style leaflet delivered to homes in the South West. This body resulted from debates surrounding UK's possible exit from the EU, with a vote being held in 2016 Jun 23.
Alston, Philip. Professor of Law at New York University and Director of its Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. Editor of the European Journal of International Law since 1997.
(2005, Ed.) Non-State Actors and Human Rights. Hardback book. Published by Oxford University Press. Academy of European Law. European University Institute in collaboration with the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University School of Law.
(2004, Ed.) A Globalizing World? Culture, Economics, Politics. Paperback book. 2nd edition. Originally published 2000. Current version published by Routledge for The Open University.
(2003) Political Ideologies. Paperback book. 3rd edition. Originally published 1992. Current version published by Palgrave MacMillan.
HM Government (UK)
(2016) Why the Government Believes that Voting to Remain in the European Union is the Best Decision for the UK. Paperback book. Published to argue the government's position ahead of the UK referendum on EU membership on 2016 Jun 23. Published in 2016 Apr, and delivered to households nationwide.
(2003) European Union Law. 3rd edition. Published by Lexis Nexis, UK. Margot Horspool is professor of European and Comparative Law at the University of Surrey; Fellow of the Centre for the Law of the European Union, University College London and professor at the College of Europe.
(2004) No Logo. Paperback book. Originally published 2000, HarperCollins, London, UK.
(2000) Sword and Scales: An Examination of the Relationship Between Law and Politics. Paperback book. Published by Hart Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK. Prof. Loughlin is Professor of Law at the University of Manchester, UK, and Professor of Public Law-elect at the London School of Economics & Political Science, UK.
The Financial Times
(2013) Britain and the EU: In or Out?. E-book. Amazon Kindle digital edition. Drawn from articles originally published in the Financial Times between 1975 and March 2013.