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Lawyers In For Britain: The UK and the EU: Benefits, misconceptions and alternatives banner

11 March 2015

New Report provides compelling evidence of substantial benefits of EU membership

Lawyers – In for Britain, a group of British lawyers, has today issued a detailed Report setting out the benefits of, misconceptions about, and alternatives to, the UK’s membership of the EU.  The core aim of the Report is to promote a more informed discussion of the issues by the electorate ahead of the referendum.

In this Report, Lawyers – In for Britain has gathered together what it considers to be the most reliable key evidence on which more than 250 signatories based their conclusions about the UK’s EU membership.  The Report is unequivocal: the benefits of EU membership to the UK are substantial and often taken for granted and the UK’s interests are best served by remaining in the EU.

The Report details the numerous benefits that EU membership brings to the UK: from a safer and more secure society, easier and cheaper transport and travel, more affordable energy, a cleaner and healthier environment and guaranteed access to the single market on which so many of the UK’s jobs and business currently depend.

While acknowledging that the EU is not perfect, Lawyers – In for Britain is concerned that misconceptions are playing a pivotal role in the debate and the Report seeks to provide the reader with reliable information on:

  • the key benefits of the UK remaining in the EU;
  • the truth behind some of the common misconceptions about the EU; and
  • the alternatives to membership of the EU and why they would not deliver the benefits of single market access without also following the rules of that market.

John Davies, Chairman of Lawyers – In For Britain, said: “Our conclusion is that the UK is stronger, safer and better off in the EU.  The words I hear the most from those who are undecided are ‘give us the facts’.  We have gathered together what we believe are the most reliable facts that led us to this conclusion.  We hope this Report will be a valuable contribution to the debate.”

A full list of the individuals who are signatories to this document can be found below.

The signatories are speaking as individuals and not on behalf of their organisations or clients.

Media enquiries:

James Fearnley/David Henderson

Finsbury

T: +44(0)20 7251 3801

E: lawyersinforbritain@finsbury.com

 

Note to editors:

  1. Lawyers – In for Britain is a group of over 250 leading UK lawyers, including 24 Professors and other academics, 3 former EU Judges, 39 QCs and many partners of major firms.
  2. The Report seeks to provide the reader with reliable information on the benefits of, alternatives to, and misconceptions about, the UK’s membership of the EU. Its aim is to promote a more informed discussion of the EU referendum question.
  3. The evidence contained in the Report is sourced from UK Government and UK Government department documents published prior to the Settlement of 19 February 2016 and from papers and studies released by other independent institutions including the Bank of England, the UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility and UK universities.
  4. The key evidence indicates that the benefits of EU membership outweigh the burdens. UK citizens take many of the benefits of EU membership for granted. They have become part of the fabric of UK life over the 43 years since the UK became a member of the EU in 1973.
  • The EU has given the UK easier and cheaper travel, a more secure society, a cleaner environment, a wider choice of products, confidence that the goods and services available in the UK are of the same high standard and quality.
  • Guaranteed access to the single market has helped support a dynamic economy, raise economic growth, boost living standards and create jobs.
  • A recent survey of more than 100 economists underscored the economic consensus that the UK’s prospects would be damaged if the UK were to withdraw. Of those surveyed, 67 thought the UK’s economic outlook would deteriorate if the UK were to leave, while none thought it would improve.
  1. Many people have legitimate questions about the EU. But there is a great deal of misinformation circulating and the fears raised about the EU are frequently misconceptions.
  • The single market could not operate without enforceable common rules to replace a patchwork of 28 different and often conflicting national laws. These laws ensure that UK citizens and businesses are not discriminated against in the rest of the EU.
  • Many areas of UK law are unaffected by EU law and the UK has obtained a number of significant ‘opt outs’ that significantly limit the areas where EU law applies, particularly in relation to the euro and the free movement of persons.
  • The UK Government, Parliament and citizens play a significant role in EU law making. The UK government has voted in favour of more than 90% of EU legislation.  In practice, the UK is one of the largest and most influential Member States and has had significant influence over the development of EU law, particularly in relation to telecoms, energy and financial services.  That being said, the need to limit unnecessary regulation and red tape has been increasingly accepted, particularly for small and medium sized businesses.
  • The costs of EU membership can also be exaggerated. The UK’s net contribution to the EU budget is less than that of Germany or France and is less than 1% of the UK Government’s total expenditure.  And limiting discussion to the UK’s contribution to the EU budget ignores the broader benefits of EU membership to the UK overall.
  1. Most troubling of all, perhaps, is that no-one knows what the alternatives to EU membership would look like for the UK.
  • We do know that about half of the UK’s trade is with the rest of the EU and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future whether we remain or leave. However, if the UK were to leave, in order to continue trading with the EU, UK businesses would have to continue to comply with EU law – but the UK would have no right to vote on the content of those laws and no right to challenge EU legislation in the CJEU or to participate in proceedings before the CJEU.
  • The UK would no doubt try to renegotiate access back into the single market on favourable terms, to avoid tariffs being imposed on UK exports to the EU. But the differences in bargaining power are substantial – the EU is the world’s largest integrated economy (bigger even than the US or China) so there is a real prospect that any deal that was reached would not be as advantageous to the UK as the one it has now.
  • The UK would also have to decide which EU legislation to retain, modify or repeal. The time, bureaucracy and costs involved in such an exercise are likely to be substantial.
  • The UK currently has automatic access to the EU’s trade deals with over 50 countries in the rest of the world. So, if the UK were to leave, it would have to try to renegotiate those agreements as well. The extent to which the UK would be as successful as the EU has been, and the amount of time all these negotiation would take, is unknown.