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

We believe that the EU means more choice and lower prices for higher quality goods and services. UK consumers benefit directly from EU policies that:

  • increase household incomes.[1] The Government has noted that being part of the EU single market may have resulted in benefits of up to 6% higher income per capita (in the region of £3,300 a year per household) in the UK.[2] And some three to four million British jobs are linked to exports of goods and services to the EU.[3] The CBI estimates the benefits of EU membership to be in the region of £62-78 billion per year.[4]
  • provide consumers with more choice of products from a wider range of retailers and online suppliers across the EU. This helps drive down prices.[5]
  • ensure that products are of the same high standard and quality no matter where they are made or sold in the EU. The relevant legislation,[6] which the UK has approved,[7] means that British consumers are protected and can have confidence in the products they buy.
  • make travel much easier.[8] There are no customs or visa controls within the EU, so there are fewer delays at UK ports and airports. Low cost airlines and coach companies have flourished because EU law has reduced the bureaucratic burdens imposed on them by national governments. The EU also has an “open skies” agreement with the US which provides for all transatlantic routes to be opened up to European and American operators – pushing down prices for consumers. These new business models[9] have helped drive down air fares[10] and have increased the choice of destinations available to British tourists.[11] As the CEO of EasyJet has said “EasyJet was born from deregulation in Europe. Air fares are 40% lower for consumers”.[12]
  • require the best placed competition authorities in the EU and in the UK to enforce the same basic set of rules to ensure that businesses do not collude to raise prices and overcharge consumers.[13]
  • promote competition by regulating access and fees for landline and mobile infrastructure.[14]
  • reduce costs for deploying high-speed electronic communications networks and investments in broadband networks supporting high-speed internet and regulation of the use of wireless technologies, such as 3G and LTE.[15]
  • protect consumers, in particular with regard to end-user contracts and transparency.[16]
  • ensure, where it makes sense to do so, that action is taken at a European level requiring companies to offer consumers value for money. For example, the EU has scrapped mobile roaming charges so that holiday makers will no longer return home to the nightmare of a massive phone bill racked up whilst away.[17]

In the telecoms sector, Ofcom has stated that the EU means that UK consumers have “benefited from increased competition […], enjoying greater quality and variety of communications services, at consistently low prices, while innovation and indeed investment have continued apace”.

Three, the telecommunications company, expressed this in more general terms, suggesting that “European mechanisms for delivering free movement of services […] have delivered for consumers and businesses in the UK. We doubt that the UK Government would have been able to deliver the same outcomes in isolation”.[18]

Other specific examples of greater benefits brought about by EU membership are contained in the rest of this report.


 

  1. It is difficult to quantify the precise impact of EU membership on the UK economy. According to the Bank of England, third party studies estimating the net impact of EU membership on the UK economy, range from anywhere between -4.5% to +20% of annual GDP, largely reflecting the different assumptions and methodologies used. The papers that find a negative impact of EU membership tend to focus on the ‘static’ costs – associated with regulation, immigration or the UK’s contribution to the EU Budget in a given year – summing them up to produce an overall cost. However, these papers fail to take into account the potential ‘dynamic’ effects associated with EU membership. See also Question 5.
  2. Department for Business Innovation & Skills, The UK and the Single Market – Trade and Investment Analytical Papers, Topic 4 of 18, 2011, pages 3 and 4 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/43314/11-719-uk-and-single-market.pdf; and House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union (Sub-Committee B), Inquiry into Re-launching the Single Market, Oral and associated written evidence – Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, Written evidence (EUSM 7), 2010 – http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/eu-sub-com-b/singlemarketinquiry/singlemarketwo.pdf.
  3. South Bank University Report, UK jobs dependent on the EU, Brian Ardy, Iain Begg and Dermot Hodson, 2000 – http://www.europarl.org.uk/resource/static/files/ukjobs.pdf; Centre for Economics and Business Research and British Influence, UK jobs supported by exports to the EU – Cebr analysis of UK jobs associated with demand from the European Union, March 2014 – http://www.cebr.com/reports/british-jobs-and-the-single-market/; House of Commons Library, Briefing Paper, Number 06091, In Brief: UK-EU economic relations, Dominic Webb and Matthew Keep, 19 January 2016, page 7 – http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06091.
  4. CBI, Our Global Future: The Business Vision for a Reformed EU, November 2013, page 59 – http://news.cbi.org.uk/reports/our-global-future/our-global-future/.
  5. The free movement of goods is an essential part of the EU internal market and finds its legal basis in Articles 26 and 28-37 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The right to free movement of goods originating in Member States, and of goods from third countries which are in free circulation in the Member States, is a fundamental principle – Article 28 TFEU. The right is secured through the elimination of customs duties and quantitative restrictions (quotas), and the prohibition of measures having an equivalent effect to a customs duty – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A12012E%2FTXT.
  6. Examples of products which are required to meet the same safety requirements before they are sold to the public include:

  7. A brief description of how the UK influences EU legislation is set out in: HM Government, Guiding Principles for EU legislation, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/185626/bis-13-774-guiding-principles-for-eu-legislation.pdf. See also Question 1, “Does membership of the EU prevent the UK from making its own laws?”.
  8. See Benefits 9.
  9. At the same time EU law (Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 February 2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency, and repealing Council Directive 91/670/EEC, Regulation (EC) No 1592/2002 and Directive 2004/36/EC – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32008R0216) has increased safety standards resulting, according to British Airways, “in the safest period in European aviation safety” – HM Government, Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union – Transport, February 2014, paragraphs 2.96-2.97 – https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/eu-balance-of-competences-review-transport-call-for-evidence.
  10. Department for Transport, Call for Evidence on the Government’s Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union – Transport, May 2013, page 13 – https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/eu-balance-of-competences-review-transport-call-for-evidence.
  11. HM Government, Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union – Transport, February 2014, paragraph 2.8 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/278966/boc-transport.pdf.
  12. Carolyn McCall, CEO, EasyJet, Britain Stronger in Europe video, 11 October 2015 – https://www.facebook.com/StrongerInCampaign/videos.
  13. For example, the European Commission has condemned the following illegal cartels:

  14. Directive 2002/19/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on access to, and interconnection of, electronic communications network and associated facilities (Access Directive) – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A32002L0019.
  15. Directive 2002/20/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services (Authorisation Directive) – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A32002L0020.
  16. Directive 2002/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services (Universal Service Directive) – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A32002L0022.
  17. See The EU Gives UK Citizens Greater Opportunities to Live, Work, Study and Travel Abroad.
  18. OFCOM: Response to the UK Government Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union, January 2014, page 1 – http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/international/responses/Ofcom_Response_Balance_of_Competences_Review_January_2014.pdf and https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/332668/bis-14-987-free-movement-of-services-balance-of-competencies-report.pdf .