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 in the UK pay much more in taxes than they take as benefits2,3. This is especially true of typical young EU adults working in menial labour, helping to smoothen the UK's top-heavy demographic pyramid.
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.4. This is exactly what happened with UK farming industry; now, savagely short of physically-fit manpower, it is shrinking despite global demand soaring5,6,7.
Our ageing population is putting massive strain on pensions and welfare8: 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 groupings9, whilst the under-16s shrunk from 26% to 19% of the total population9. "Each increase in life expectancy of one year adds about £12 billion to the aggregate pension liabilities of FTSE 100 companies"10. Pensions will continue to become increasingly costly, their benefits to be squeezed. Thankfully, most migrants are working-age (34 years old, on average in 201111) which helps keep the UK ratio of retirees-to-workers lower11. The occasional addition of new states to the EU bloc is met with a healthy influx of young workers, balancing the demographic scales and helping to keep welfare systems and pensions systems afloat.
Nearly half the new doctors and nurses employed in the National Health Service have qualified abroad16 and we still have shortages of medical staff.
Immigrants use fewer NHS services than Brits because they are younger17 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:
The Island History of a Nation of Travellers: 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 slaves18. We are inherently tied to migration. In 2010, 9% of Brits worked abroad19 and there are 1.3 million British expats in Europe20. 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)21.
Much of the UK is misled by sensationalist news articles on immigration22. Half of all Brits think that immigration is bad for the UK23 and even pro-European Brits think there are twice as many EU immigrants than there really are - which is 5% of the population21. The press rarely report positive news on UK - there are at least 30,000 British citizens claiming benefits in the EU, often receiving more generous payments than foreigners do in the UK24.
For more, see:
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 swayed25. 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)26,27,28. 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 outmanoeuvre governments and therefore evade the law29, leading to weaker governments30,31. If one country tightens up quality control, industrial regulation or raises employee benefits, modern companies can easily move production abroad32. Governments are under pressure to not improve legislation.33. 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 people34). 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"35. 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 power36,37.
“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%.39”
Brits make 50 million visits to Europe every year40. 1.4 million Brits work, study or have retired abroad in the EU35,41. That's 12 times as many as go to anywhere in North America, and 5 times as many as go anywhere in the world. When abroad, Brits get free emergency healthcare via the European Health Insurance Card42,43: a scheme we use more than most as a result of our high rate of excursions, saving holidaymakers a lot of paperwork and expense compared to the costs of organize it country-by-country. As a result of the EU's bargaining power with providers, ordinary class plane flights are 40% cheaper43 in the EU and EU-wide travel assistance and compensation schemes help many35,44.
After living abroad for 5 years, Brits get free health care anywhere in the EU44. Our driving licenses are valid throughout the EU35,45, we can go work (and retire) anywhere in the EU44 (does anyone remember how awkward (and often impossible) it was to organize work Visas?), and, anywhere in the world we can use the embassies of EU states in the absence of a UK embassy44. Membership of the EU facilitates harmonised motor insurance, vehicle registrations, number plates and other aspects of travel, and in each case, this saves individual time and expense45,46. Without all of this, our nearest continent becomes somewhat more difficult to navigate safely or smoothly. The benefits that EU members get from membership is worth alot to the UK47.
For more, see:
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"35. The EU is uniquely placed to be able to monitor terrorists' financial transactions, international fraud and the movement of criminals from country to country51. 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 average35,52. 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 member53, and we are also the 4th largest user of Eurojust, requesting 107 cases54. 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"55. 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"56. 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"44. 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.
For more, see:
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is not part of the EU58. 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 lazy with their presentation of facts.