This Week’s Need To Know

I’m assuming you all registered to vote in the European Union Referendum on Monday. If not – naughty! (Seriously though, you didn’t? May as well stop reading, you’ve clearly already stopped giving a shit about your future or anyone else’s. Stop reading and go and have a think about what you’ve [not] done.)

To the rest of you – hurray! Doesn’t it feel good to be able to take matters into your own hands (kind of) and help decide the fate of our country?

Except, that’s the issue, isn’t it? The deciding part.

For the past few months our lives have been inundated with countless news reports, broadcasts, and Facebook statuses, on whether or not Britain would be better off in or out of the EU, but every account so far (of all the ones I’ve read, at least) have been biased in some way.

In lieu of this – and because the leader of our country is too busy squabbling with a fellow Bullingdon Boys Club alumnus to bother with us, The Great Unwashed – I’m going to try to provide you with some straight up facts about our country’s current position as an EU member and some of what that entails. What I’m not going to do is attempt to construct an image of what would happen if we did leave – because I don’t know what that looks like. Nobody does. Not even Boris. (Especially not Boris.)

The EU is an international organisation formed of 28 European countries, with a combined population of 508 million people. Like with most organisations, there is an annual fee of a cool £13bn (in accordance to last years figures). Membership of this organisation creates rights and obligations; the UK can therefore influence the rights allowed to states/individual citizens/businesses and is obligated to comply with them once agreed. One of those rights is access to The Single Market – no tariffs are imposed on imports and exports between members – that the EU maintains. This means Member States cannot impose restrictions on companies and individuals exercising their rights of free movement, such as customs controls or licensing requirements.

The Free Movement ideal that the EU upholds allows (weirdly enough) free movement of citizens between member states. There has been, as a result, a huge increase in immigration into the UK, with, according to the Office for National Statistics, 942,000 eastern Europeans, Romanians and Bulgarians moving to live and work in the UK, along with 791,000 western Europeans. There was also a recorded number of 2.9m workers from outside the EU coming to reside within the UK.

Members of the EU also have the right to retain their own national research and technological development programmes, with the Unions’ supporting such activity. The EU’s main innovation programme is called Horizon 2020, of which the UK has provided 12 per cent of all EU funding, and has received around 15 per cent of the funds contributed to research the programme. Under the freedom of movement rules, researchers and students alike are able to study or work in universities across the EU, facilitated through the Erasmus+ exchange programme.

As I previously mentioned, it’s impossible to paint an accurate picture of what Brexit Britain would look like, therefore I’ve given you quite a lot of ‘cause’ without much ‘effect’. But that, I’m afraid, is up to you to decide. Just make sure you do, and before the 23rd of June!

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