What is the European Union?
The European Union (EU) is an international institution currently made up of 28 countries which started life just after World War Two and by 1957 evolved into an economic union between 6 countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Through time, this European Economic Community (EEC) grew to a huge single market incorporating almost all states on the European Continent. In 1993, the EEC changed its name to the European Union, reflecting the transition from a purely economic community into a social, political, and economic union.
Member states of the EU create common laws and policy on a wide variety of subjects including: immigration, fishing, agriculture, trade, employment, social, and many more.
There are 3 main bodies that govern the EU and have different roles, these are:
European Parliament – This parliament has 751 seats filled by “Members of European Parliament” which are chosen through democratic elections, each member state having allotted to them a certain number of seats. The parliament is responsible for examining, amending and passing EU legislation and setting the EU’s annual budget.
European Commission – This is where EU legislation is created and sent to parliament for passing/rejection. The Commission has one representative from each member state, giving it 28 seats.
Council of Ministers – The Council of Ministers (also called the Council of the European Union) is a legislative body that, together with the European Parliament, debates and passes European laws. It is not to be confused with the European Council, which is where Heads of State and Government meet to set the strategic direction of the EU.
The referendum will take place on June 23rd 2016.
“British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in the UK, along with UK nationals who have lived overseas for less than 15 years. Members of the House of Lords and Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar will also be eligible, unlike in a general election. Citizens from EU countries – apart from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus – will not get a vote.” (Source: BBC)
In order to vote you must first be registered.
The Electoral Commission has advised that the question on the ballot paper be:
Remain in the EU
Leave the EU
1. Britain leaving the European Union would allow it to negotiate freely its own trade agreements with whomever it wanted in the world without the restrictions of the EU.
2. It is possible that jobs could increase in the UK as a result of red-tape and regulations imposed by the EU being lifted.
3. Britain would gain full control of its borders, and may prevent British workers from being undercut by European labour.
4. As Britain is a member of NATO and a member of the UN Security Council, it would still have diplomatic power in the world, despite not being members of the EU.
5. The EU hasn’t got much power over taxation and leaves it to National Governments, so leaving the EU potentially wouldn’t increase levels of tax avoidance.
6. Westminster would not have to enforce the many European Laws and as a result the UK can regain some of its lost sovereignty.
7. Britain will be able to take control of its policies regarding fisheries, agriculture, and others, instead of it being regulated by Brussels.
8. In 2015, the UK spent a net £8.5 billion into the EU taking into account the annual ‘rebate’ and direct EU spending in the UK. (Source)
9. The open-door migration policy of unrestricted access to members of the European Union can be swapped for a more controlled system such as the “Australian Points-Based” method.
10. Through the EU, Britain’s economy is closely tied to some struggling EU economies such as Greece and Ireland. This means the UK is potentially vulnerable to European-wide economic woes.
11. The EU is can be seen as undemocratic. Many EU officials appointed rather than elected, and the European Parliament also has a huge legitimacy gap, reflected in really low turnout rates at European elections.
This for and against comparison had been created by David Murray.