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    The European Union: In or Out?

    The recent announcement by Government that the UK will now vote on whether or not to leave the EU has sparked huge countrywide debate. It seems everyone has their own ideas about what they think is best for Britain, but if you still need to consider the facts before you make up your mind, we’ve put together a quick guide of the main pros and cons of the in-out vote.

    One of the biggest issues in discussion surrounding the suggestion of leaving the EU is the great uncertainty of the outcome of such action. No country has ever left the EU before so there is no precedent, no current model to base any prediction of the exact results upon. Uncertainty alone makes many people uneasy at the prospect of leaving.

    Being in the EU brings with it the advantage of free trade between member nations. This makes it easier and cheaper for companies in Britain to export their goods and services to Europe. Britain has to pay significant membership fees to be in the Union, but many business leaders argue that the boost afforded to the British economy because of this free trade outweighs the price tag.

    If Britain leaves the EU, there is a risk that it may lose some international negotiating power by not being a part of the European trading block. However it is argued that an advantage to leaving the EU is that Britain would be free of ties to engage with non-EU countries to establish new trade agreements.

    Being an EU member has for decades meant that UK workers have the freedom to move across EU borders for employment, opening up job opportunities for the British workforce and it also allows British companies to easily employ workers form other EU countries. Many are of the opinion that this prevents the UK from managing its own borders effectively leading to an excessive number of European migrants entering the British employment market.

    However, it has been suggested that by restricting this freedom by leaving the EU, the best and most qualified workers from Europe may be deterred from coming to the UK thereby diminishing the pool of quality candidates for British employers to choose from.

    Again, views vary on the subject of investment in the UK. Those who favour remaining in the EU advocate that the UK currently has a high status as one of the world’s biggest financial centres and that by leaving the EU, investors from abroad for example the US financial sector, may not be as willing to invest if the UK is no longer viewed as a gateway to Europe.
    Others argue that the UK financial market is strong enough on its own merits, with an appeal which will be undiminished by leaving the EU, and it will hold its own. Some analysts believe that far from weakening the sterling, if Britain left the EU, the economy could be viewed by investors as a relative calm in the tumultuous European market and encourage investment.
    Global Influence
    In today’s world of global threat and counter threat, many worry that Britain’s voice will be diminished if it stands alone. Some fear that other international countries, the US in particular, may see Britain as less influential if it does not have the backing of other European countries.
    Others argue that by leaving the confines of EU influence it means that Britain can make its own decisions on limits to working hours, remove itself from unfavourable EU directives and reclaim fishing waters in UK territories.

    Rules and Regulations
    As an EU member, Britain is bound by the EU Treaties which agree terms to which all member countries must adhere. A large majority of the UK’s small and medium sized companies who do not trade with Europe are restricted by large regulatory burdens imposed from Europe which many business owners argue is reason to leave the EU.

    On the flip side, British farmers currently receive billions in EU subsidies and leaving the EU would have huge negative consequences on the farming industry, affecting what are already some of the lowest income areas of the UK.

    Whether you are an ‘In’ or an ‘Out’ voter depends to some extent upon how you see yourself being affected by a change to the status quo, your employment and family status, if you are a business owner or an employee and what your political views are. There will certainly be passionate campaigns fought from each side in the lead up to the vote on June 23rd and whatever the result, the impact for Britain will be significant.

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