Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Myth-busting bust

UKIP published a series of EU “myth busters” which either don’t add up, or don’t bust the “myth” they refer to. It’s worth noting the hyperlinks which are suspiciously missing from the UKIP “myth busting”.
Here we go through step by step to show, with facts, why UKIP is wrong.

MYTH 1. Britain would lose out on millions of jobs if we left the EU.
UKIP FACT: This is a common deceit. In fact, the EU would lose 4 millions jobs if it ceased trading with the UK, it’s biggest customer. The EU sells more to us than we sell to it. In 2009 there was a trade deficit of £34.9bn; in 2011, that deficit was nearly £50bn.
THE TRUTH: We have a trade deficit in goods with the EU. When services are included we have a trade surplus, so we wouldn’t be in the best negotiating position.
A November 2013 poll of businesses by Business for Britain found that 5% of small businesses, 8% of medium-sized and 9% of large firms think they would close if Britain left the EU. That amounts to 53,000 businesses employing 1.5million people. Here is the polling data (pdf). Here is The Times covering the story.

MYTH 2. Tariff barriers will exclude us from trade with the EU.
UKIP FACT: The EU has free trade agreements with 53 countries to overcome such tariffs, and is negotiating a further 74.
THE TRUTH: We would, of course, still be able to trade with the EU, but there would be some tariff barriers. The Economist said that under WTO rules:
“British dairy exports would incur an import tax of 55% to reach the EU market, with tariffs on some items of more than 200%. Cheddar cheese would face a tariff of €167 per 100kg; the mark-up on Stilton would be €141. Average tariffs on clothing would push up their price in European markets by 12%. Parts of Britain’s car industry would move out. British-based producers would face a 4% tariff on car-equipment sales to the EU.”
Britain would also eventually face non-tariff barriers. EU exports account for 14% of our GDP but we wouldn’t have a single vote over the rules for those exports. Therefore, the rules would start to be unfavourable to British exports.

MYTH 3. Britain cannot survive economically outside the EU in a world of trading blocs.
UKIP FACT: Major economies such as Japan (the world’s third largest) are not in a trading bloc. Our best trading relationships are not within the EU, but outside, with countries like the USA and Switzerland.
THE TRUTH: Our biggest trading partner is the rest of the EU. Japan is actually in talks to join a large trade bloc (the Asia-Pacific free-trade bloc) having spent the last two decades in economic crisis. It is also negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU.

MYTH 4. The EU is moving towards the UK’s position on cutting regulation and bureaucracy.
UKIP FACT: Once in place, EU directives are highly unlikely to be reformed or repealed. Less than 15% of Britain’s GDP represents trade with the EU yet Brussels regulations afflict 100% of our economy. In 2010, Open Europe estimated EU regulation had cost Britain £124 billion since 1998.
THE TRUTH: This is just assertion. The EU’s REFIT programme which is ongoing has resulted in the Commission screening all EU legislation to simplify it and to reduce the burden. As a result regulations have been scrapped. Britain has been a key supporter for this programme.
Recently, the EU exempted small businesses from accounting requirements. A welcome step to reduce bureaucracy.
EU Commission guidelines stipulate that it will not introduce legislation where the economic burden outweighs the benefits after a public consultation and rigorous impact assessment.

MYTH 5. If we leave, we’ll have to pay the EU billions and implement all its regulations without a say.
UKIP FACT: We have little say within the EU, and would have more leverage as an independent sovereign nation. Now, we have only 8.4% of voting power ‘say’ in the EU. Our 73 MEPs are a minority within the 766 in the European Parliament.
THE TRUTH: UKIP haven’t busted the myth at all. Norway has implemented ¾ of EU laws, without a say in the content of a single one of them. Its citizens also pay 79% of what British citizens pay for membership.

MYTH 6. The EU has brought peace to the European continent.
UKIP FACT: It is NATO, founded in 1949 and dominated by the USA, and not the EU, that has actually kept the peace in Europe, together with parliamentary democracy. Both of which are being undermined by the EU.
THE TRUTH: NATO was set up to stop the Soviet Union invading Western Europe. The EU was set up to stop France and Germany going to war again. The EU has also been the biggest advocate and force for parliamentary democracies in Europe and has enabled many former dictatorships (such as Greece, Spain and Portugal) to become democracies.

MYTH 7. The EU has a positive impact on the British economy.
UKIP FACT: Industries like fishing, farming, postal services and manufacturing have been devastated by our membership of the EU which costs billions of pounds and large numbers of lost jobs thanks to red tape, substantial membership and aid contributions and other costs.
THE TRUTH: The National Farmers Union has been supportive of a number of EU measures, including the recently signed free trade deal with Canada which will create a huge export market for British farmers. A deal the size of which we simply wouldn’t have got on our own.

MYTH 8. We’ll lose foreign investment if we leave the EU.
UKIP FACT: In a 2010 survey on UK’s attractiveness to foreign investors, Ernst and Young found Britain remained the top Foreign Direct Investment destination in Europe thanks to the City of London and the UK’s relationship with the US.
THE TRUTH: Many investors into the UK including Nissan and Ford motor companies have said they would reconsider investment if the UK left the EU.
A UK Government analysis has said: “EU membership has contributed to FDI growth in the UK by reducing access costs to a larger market, enabling greater economies of scale and returns on investment, increasing competition and facilitating agglomeration.”
“More than 1,300 Japanese companies have invested in the UK, as part of the single market of the EU, and have created 130,000 jobs, more than anywhere else in Europe. This fact demonstrates that the advantage of the UK as a gateway to the European market has attracted Japanese investment.”

MYTH 9. We will lose influence in the world by being outside the EU
UKIP FACT: Britain has a substantial ‘portfolio of power’: membership of the G20 and G8 Nations, a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and seats on the International Monetary Fund Board of Governors and World Trade Organisation. We are at the heart of the 54-nation Commonwealth.
THE TRUTH: Whether it’s negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran or leading the world to an agreement on climate change, the EU provides Britain with a louder voice and more influence in the world.

MYTH 10. Legally, we can’t leave the EU.
UKIP FACT: Britain could leave the EU in a single day by repealing the European Communities Act 1972 and its attendant Amendment Acts through a single clause Bill passing through Westminster. A replacement UK/EU Free Trade Agreement would not need time-consuming negotiation on tariff reductions if it merely replicated existing EU trade arrangements.
THE TRUTH: This isn’t a myth we’ve heard before. Maybe they ran out at 9?

Thanks to Catherine Bearder MEP and to British Influence for the rebuttals above. As to Myth 10, it is possible after the Lisbon Treaty for nations to withdraw from the European Union.

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