Our MEP Gerard Batten continues with the next few answers to the frequently-asked questions you might have about this summer’s referendum.  If you have any further questions, please contact Gerard on gerard.batten@btinternet.com

  1. Why do more countries, for example Turkey, want to join the EU?

The six countries that set up the European Economic Community (‘EEC’) in 1957 were Germany, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium. These were countries that had been devastated by the Second World War. The driving force behind the creation of the EEC was the need for an economic and political pact between Germany and France, historically the main instigators of European wars.

Since then 22 more countries have joined, many for less idealistic reasons. In any given year, typically only three or four countries are net contributors to the EU budget. Germany is always the top contributor, with the UK usually in second or third place. Aside from the top three or four contributors to the EU budget, most countries take far more out than they put in.

To illustrate the point, 2004 saw the accession of 10 smaller, mostly poor, Eastern European countries to the EU. They joined for the financial and other benefits they could obtain. The same is true of those countries waiting to join such as Macedonia, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.

The countries lining up to join are certainly not doing so in the hope of making donations to the massive EU budget. They want cash handouts, and to be able to export their excess populations and unemployed to Europe. Turkey, for instance, is not even in Europe (97.0% of its land mass is in Asia). It has a population of 77 million, and if it joins it will be the second most populous, and the poorest, country in the EU. You can work the rest out for yourself.

  1. If we left, would we lose millions in EU grants?

Firstly, there is no such thing as ‘EU money’. There is only taxpayers’ money and the UK is always a net contributor to the EU budget – every single year (except for one) we’ve paid in far more than we got out. As stated before, Germany always pays the most, with Britain usually in the top three or four. The one and only year that we got more out than we paid in was 1975. ‘Coincidentally’, 1975 was the last time we had a Referendum on membership …

The EU’s own figures (European Commission, Eurostat, ECB, Open Europe calculations. The author of the report, Mats Persson, is now an advisor to David Cameron)  show that out of the 37 British regions (as classified under the EU’s system for ‘Regional Aid’), 35 are net contributors to the fund. Only two regions, West Wales and Cornwall, are net beneficiaries. In total, the UK gets back £1 for every £3.55 we pay in. Over the budgetary period 2007-2013, the UK paid in about £29.5 billion, but received only £8.7 billion in return. Many of Britain’s poorest and most deprived regions are subsidising the regions of other EU member states.

Neither is this money well spent: between 2007 and 2013, the European Regional Development Fund‘s payments to Wales totalled £2 billion, yet the effect on unemployment in Wales was insignificant. We would be better off not giving the money to the EU and instead deciding how to spend British tax-payers’ money to best effect ourselves, in our own country.

  1. How much does EU membership cost?

A simple question which, unfortunately, has a complex answer: even the British government doesn’t quite seem to know exactly how much it hands over to the EU each year. The Government’s current forecast for payments to the EU Budget for 2016-2017 is:

  • £19.228 billion gross contribution to the budget
  • £4.444 billion is held back as the British Rebate
  • £4.606 billion is spent in the UK by the EU
  • This gives an estimated net contribution of £10.178 billion.

However, bear in mind that our gross contribution is rising, the rebate is declining (thanks to Tony Blair’s ‘renegotiations’ of 2006), and the EU spends £4.6 billion of our own money in our own country on projects they, rather than we, deem fit. A British government should be able to make better decisions than the EU on how to spend taxpayers’ money in Britain.

The indirect costs on the economy are much higher. These include the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy and over-regulation on business, to name just three. Professor Tim Congdon has calculated that the direct and indirect costs on our economy for 2015 to be 12% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) or £190 billion per annum. (How much does the European Union cost, 2015 Edition. Professor Tim Congdon) 

  1. How many of our laws are made by the EU?

Most areas of domestic policy are now under the control of the EU. Its legislation takes two main forms: Directives and Regulations. Directives must be transposed into UK Acts of Parliament. The UK Parliament has no choice in the matter, even if, in some instances, it may tinker with the details. And Regulations automatically become law, even without our Parliament debating them.

The amount of law coming from the EU varies from year to year. In 2006, the German Parliament, under former President Roman Hertzog, carried out a study that put the proportion of new laws originating from the EU at 84%. Gordon Brown, in a speech to the Confederation of British Industry in 2005 while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, admitted that “European regulations – of course – account for 50% of significant new rules for business”. In the European Parliament, EU Commissioner Viviane Reding admitted that 70% of British laws are made in the EU”. So a reasonable estimate is that, in any given year, the proportion of our law that comes from the EU is somewhere between 50% and 80%.

The rate of legislation passing through the European Parliament has somewhat slowed down over the last eighteen months, and it is believed that a large amount of legislation is being deliberately held back by the Commission until the British Referendum is over. If we vote to remain in the EU, the legislative floodgates will once again open.

Part 5 follows tomorrow.

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