So, hype and agenda’s aside, here’s what I’ve learned about the EU and the debate.

Brussels is a massive European parliament that we are currently a member of. They pass laws that either enter directly into our statute books or indirectly through our parliament on an almost daily basis. However those laws are almost entirely related to trade and are mostly negligible. In key areas such as defence, health care, education, tax etc… Europe have no say.

Nobody (not even the official government records office) knows what percentage of laws in the UK are passed by Europe. Estimates range from 5% to 60%. This is a huge difference and is dependent on what you consider a law. For example, if Brussels passes a law that prevents tobacco plants being grown with artificial insecticides, this law is automatically entered into our statute book despite the fact that the UK has never grown tobacco plants. If we don’t count these laws then figures approaching the 5% mark can be estimated. If we include these types of laws in our count, then we would approach the 60% number.

It is true that we have little influence over Europe. Just in the way your locally elected MP has little influence over Westminster. The European parliament has 751 MEP’s, 73 of which are British (nearly 10%). This compares to your elected MP being 1 of 650 UK MP’s.

We do get to vote on European laws in proportion to our population of Europe. However our MEP’s that vote on our behalf are voting on a political bias, not necessarily on a UK bias. We do, however, elect our MEP’s and can un-elected them at the next election.

In the UK, we have 2 chambers, an elected government that passes laws through an un-elected second house of lords.

The European parliament has 3 chambers and works in reverse to the UK with laws being proposed by an un-elected council which then has to be ratified by an elected parliament.

The EU was originally formed to prevent independent sovereign states acting alone and starting a third world war. By definition this has been 100% successful.

The next stage of the EU was to facilitate free trade among its members and create a trading state to compete with the US and Asia. This has been reasonably successful but has had other controversial implications such as free movement of workers, a nearly failed common currency, along with a mind boggling array of mostly irrelevant laws.

With the advent of the public Internet, trade and communications have superseded the EU with electronic systems which are far freer and more democratic, thus arguably making this element of the EU redundant.

The EU is now entering it’s third phase with the attempted political unification of European nations. This is a policy which the UK has never subscribed to and will not join even if we stay in the EU.

However, if the UK stayed in Europe and signed up to the political unification process, then Europe as a whole would only represent around 7% of the worlds population by 2050. The UK will have less than 0.3% of the global population by the same date.

We contribute £30Bn per annum to Europe and receive back around £20Bn, which means we have a net cost of £10Bn (or approx £150 per person per year). This money mostly goes to less well off countries in the form of subsidies and aid. If we left Europe, we would benefit financially by that £10Bn figure. Most people accept that the UK would loose money by leaving the EU in the form of free trade and movement. It is unknown how much would be lost and whether it would be greater or less than the known £10Bn gain. For reference the annual NHS budget is around £115Bn in the UK, or about £1,700 per person per annum.

Culturally, we as a nation have never felt truly aligned with Europe. The UK is a monochronic society, which is in common with other nations such as the USA, Canada and Australia. Most of Europe is polychronic, which is culturly aligned with the latin and middle eastern states.

{Some cultures are traditionally monochronic. In such a culture, time is thought of as being linear. People are expected to do one thing at a time, and they will not tolerate lateness or interruptions. Polychronic cultures like to do multiple things at the same time. A manager’s office in a polychronic culture typically has an open door, a ringing phone and a meeting all going on at the same time. Though they can be easily distracted they also tend to manage interruptions well with a willingness to change plans often and easily. People are their main concern (particularly those closely related to them or their function) and they have a tendency to build lifetime relationships. Issues such as promptness are firmly based on the relationship rather than the task and objectives are more like desirable outcomes than must do’s.}
So, after learning and researching all the above, I don’t believe either staying or leaving Europe will have a significant tangible net affect in the short term, with the long term being unknown and dependant on many other factors. Short term affects will of course be very significant on certain demographics of the population. For that reason I don’t believe either action is significant in its own right.

Because of that conclusion, I am currently favouring #BREXIT. I believe that disruption can often cause stimulus and growth by introducing new challenges and opportunities by breaking the status quo.

I have, however, yet to make a definite decision. I have until the 23rd of June to decide.

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