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EU IN or Out Your Shout: Ten Questions

2:12

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Ten young people pose ten questions on the EU in the run up to the referendum in this 2 minute Citizen TV video. We need your answers to help the next generation decide how to vote. Please help by writing your thoughts below this video. Thank you.

Related topics: Democracy

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Bill Edwards said:

The EU is not dictatorial. The press makes it look dictatorial by announcing some new regulation . In fact any new regulation will have been subject to consultation for a long time. In the case of milk chocolate it took 30 years before they agreed on a Europe wide definition.
With out the EU we have less chance of tackling nationalism or having a more globalised society.
Those who support leaving the EU would clearly abolish free movement.
If we leave the EU it is likely that the trade deficit will increase. It will be much harder to export into the EU and companies like Nissan, Toyota and Honda are likely to close their British factories which are big exporters.
Technically judges do not create laws they only interpret them. It is a consequence of the separation of powers that the judiciary is not part of the legislature. All countries have a problem with judges overriding actions of the executive. We in the UK are relatively free of this since we do not have a written constitution. In the USA when Roosevelt wished to introduce a minimum wage the supreme court declared it unconstitutional.
The EU is not to blame for the loss of lives of migrants trying to cross ther sea. The migrants would try to cross whether the EU was there or not. Attempting to cross any sea in an overloaded boat with nobody with any knowledge of the sea is very unwise.
It is not the lack of democracy of the EU that caused the problems in Ireland or Greece. Ireland’s problems were caused when the Irish government allowed Irish banks to behave recklessly and need more support than the Irish government could provide. Without EU support Ireland and the Irish banks would have defaulted. Greece’s problems were caused by the Greek government making out that Greece passed the tests to join the Euro.
One way to increase EU democracy would be to have a federal government. That would cause a loss of sovereignty.
If the UK withdraws from the EU I have no idea what will happen and nor do any of the Leave campaign. Some of them think that we could get a deal with the Eu that would give us what we want but losing those elements like free movement which we do not want. The economist Patrick Minford thinks that we could close a large part of British manufacture and agriculture and just sell services instead. What will happen to the unemployed factory workers is not explained.
The EU was created in the first place for a number of reasons. One was to prevent a third world war. Another was to obtain the advantage of a large home market that the USA has always had.
We benefit from the EU institution rather than the particular proximity. WE have always been part of Europe. Three English kings are buried in France.

Paul Scully said:

Isabel – I think that few people understand the EU and the way it makes decisions. The EU makes little effort to make itself transparent and accountable. 30,000 lobbyists working in Brussels put the case for big business, several layers of unelected bureaucrats represent a political class but there is not much space for the voice of the public to be heard. I want decisions to be made here in the UK, for the UK. You can kick out the government in Westminster at General elections, that can’t happen in Brussels.

Ishante – I can see nothing wrong with being proud of your country, whether that is the country of your birth or your adopted home in which you live if they are not one and the same. Patriotism can be a positive glue in our society as we see on occasions like the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations. However there is nothing good about such feelings spilling over into extreme nationalism which often includes xenophobia and racism. Britain has had a remarkable track record of inclusion from right the way across the world, a record I would like to extend. By developing an immigration system with a level-playing field for people from all countries across the globe and extending trade to reflect that we live in a global economy, we can build a more globalised society. So many of the intractable issues that we face need to be tackled at a global level, such as climate change, terrorism and corporate tax avoidance. We can work with our European neighbours and countries from all continents on these.

Beulah- An integral part of being a member of the EU and having access to the Single Market is allowing the freedom of movement of people. As the son of an immigrant, I have seen the great side of immigration but we do need to manage numbers effectively. At the moment we have an uneven system penalising skilled workers who live in countries from outside the EU. We need global opportunities to travel, work and live in other countries. The Erasmus scheme allows students to study in a number of countries not limited to the EU. We are not part of the Schengen arrangement so don’t have passport-free travel at the moment.

Sandra- I believe that leaving the EU will allow us to sell our products and services more freely across the world. Predicting out how that will affect the gap between our imports and exports is very difficult but with more opportunities across the world, comes a better chance for a balanced economy.

Sheriff- People who want to remain a member of the EU often make the claim that we already share sovereignty within organisations such as NATO. However this misses the fact that most of these organisations, though we may share decision making with them, do not have a supranational court overseeing this which can then overrule our parliament and our own courts. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has decided against the UK in three-quarters of cases brought before them on matters from a global beef ban to the price of a pint of beer. We should make decisions and test them in courts here in the UK.

Nathan – The EU has been weak and very slow in tackling the dangerous migrant crossings. Individual countries have acted in their own interests in lieu of an agreed action plan. Angela Merkel opened her borders before realising that Germany could not handle such a rapid influx. I was in Greece last week to see the refugee camps in Athens and Lesbos first hand. Migrants are making the dangerous crossing in the belief that they will be able to travel to Germany. The Greek’s northern border has been closed by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, keeping people in Greece, the EU country which can least afford such a rapid increase in population. Many of the migrants that I saw in the camps were from Afghanistan and Northern Africa so were not automatically given refugee status. The agreement with Turkey has helped reduce numbers risking their lives in the Mediterranean and Aegean but we will need to see if it lasts.

Lessia- Greece should never have been allowed to adopt the Euro according to the EU’s own rules. When this problem unwound after the 2008 crash, the EU led by Germany, put an incredible amount of pressure on Greece to protect the single currency. They even imposed an unelected Prime Minister onto Italy for a while. The economies in the Eurozone are very different. If the Euro is to survive, there is a good argument to say that those countries should move towards a greater union. As the UK will have no part of that, it is better for us to leave and let them get on with that. The alternative is to move towards a looser partnership of trading nations. That may be something we would want to look at in the future.

Rene- The alternative is to join the 164 other countries that are not part of the EU. Apart from Antarctica, Europe is the only continent that has not grown economically over the last decade. By leaving, we can negotiate our own free trade agreements with India, China, Australia, Canada, America, none of which have such agreements with the EU. We can control our own borders with a system that is fairer for people wanting to come to the UK from outside the EU. We can make our own decisions here in the UK by truly accountable politicians. We should look up and look to the globe as a whole. We need to be truly international rather than limiting our ambitions within the protectionist EU.

Hristo – It is an answer created by my father’s generation for a question posed by my grandfather’s generation. The EU’s predecessor, the European Coal and Steel Community sought to neutralise competition for natural resources. Sixty five years later, the organisation has morphed into something akin to a country in its own right with a President and a foreign policy. Better refrigeration allowing us to transport food more efficiently, super container ships bringing goods from across the world and the internet have all transformed global trade. Therefore the need for a trading bloc has been reduced and is now holding us back.

Beth- I believe that we benefit in many ways from our neighbours. However the EU is a 1950s political construct. We need to work closely with our European neighbours and trade across the world. We do not need the EU to do that. The EU and Europe are two very different things.

Stephen Fitzgerald said:

1. Now we know how dictatorial the EU is, should we leave ?
Yes. I joined the Leave camp for one reason. Every country should be independent and free to make their own rules. It is why the UK dissolved its Empire from 1947 onwards. It is why the Russian Empire broke up. It is called Freedom.

2. Nationalism and how it would cope with globalisation ?
Nationalism is a very strong force. Revolutions broke out in Europe in 1848 as people sought to take back control of their country. When the Russian Empire broke up, Czechoslovakia immediately broke up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Yugoslavia broke up into Serbia, Croatia and so on. When we created independence in India it broke up into India and west and east Pakistan which in turn broke up into Pakistan and Bangladesh. This was due to religious differences.
Trying to weld people of different cultures/religions/nationalities together creates problems as witnessed in Northern Ireland, and throughout the Middle East.
Globalisation has come about through different peoples trading together freely using World Trading Organisation rules. It has also come about through the huge increase in technology which has given us the www and social media. This enables individuals and organisations to send out their message and we do not need huge power blocks to do this.

3. Trading with the EU and Freedom of Movement
To put this into perspective of the current wealth created by the UK, 70% is for domestic consumption and 30% for export. Of this 30% around 45% is with the EU which is 13.5% of our wealth produced. Exports with the rest of the world is around 55% and growing and this figure is 16.5% of our wealth produced.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and the USA trade with the EU and guess what – none of them have a trade agreement with the EU and they certainly would not accept a freedom of movement trade deal with them. Neither does the UK want this and by leaving the EU we would be free to set our own trade deals with the rest of the world which has a population of 7bn people as well as the EU with a population of ½ bn. We will undoubtedly do very well outside the EU.
Regarding the Freedom of Movement – this has produced huge problems in the UK. Of all the EU countries we have the greatest density of people per square kilometre – England 419,
Holland 408 : Wales 258 : Germany 226 : Italy 205 : N.Ireland 130 : Poland 123 : Portugal : 116 : France 105. A net increase of around 300,000 migrants a year has placed severe pressure and costs on Housing, Education, the NHS and Welfare payments as well as depressing wages for our lower skilled workers. Social cohesion will also suffer.

4. If we leave would it lead to an increased trade deficit ?

I cannot prophesy the future regarding trade deficits. I can say that we run on a trade deficit with the EU (45% of our trade) and a trade surplus with the rest of the world (55% of our trade). I feel that it follows that our opportunities for being able to set up trade agreements with the rest of the world (7bn people) as well as with the EU (1/2bn people) will create boundless opportunities for the UK.

5. Unelected EU Judges
An absolutely straight answer, I personally do not like unelected judges whether they are EU or UK judges. Once again Parliament has given power to people who do not have to answer or take responsibility for their judgements. In the UK they have entirely perverted the course of justice by their misuse of the 1998 Human Rights Act. What should have been an excellent act protecting the rights of law abiding citizens has been twisted to protect the rights of criminals. They are capable of creating a perverse “judgement” or series of “judgements” which can undermine a law which has been passed by an elected Parliament. An excellent example is the Children’s Act of 1989 and 2004. The Family Courts still operate in secret and many of their judgements have caused lasting misery for children.

6. Since 1993 20,000 people have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean. Is there a solution to this problem ?
All of this is a huge tragedy of biblical proportions. Why is it happening ? For too many years reaching back into the 19th century and beyond, Western powers, not excluding Russia have interfered with the development of the Third World including the Middle East. Pulling down Sadaam Hussein seemed the right thing to do as well as pulling down Gaddafi, but was it ? We have created huge power vacuums which have been filled by tyrants of an even worse nature. So the first thing to do is to stop interfering.
In the Syrian crisis we once again have a despot whose people are fighting against him. Worse still, ISIS is now involved. The solution to the Syrian crisis is for the West and the rest of the world to set up camps on the borders to care for the refugees. This should also be done on the borders of Libya and Iraq until the combatants finish fighting themselves to a standstill. This should be repeated wherever there is a crisis.
What I cannot accept is for people crossing the world from Afghanistan, Pakistan, various parts of Africa trying to reach the promised land. They have to stay in their country of origin and develop their own countries. An over-saturation of people in Europe will lead to an even worse situation than from the place they were fleeing.
In summary, stop our interference and where a crisis blows up, the rest of the world steps in and gives immediate assistance on the borders by setting up relief camps. Every assistance to broker a peace should then be offered through the United Nations. Our involvement should always be an offer of peace, not bombs.

7. Loss of Democracy
As mentioned above, all peoples of the world value their independence and do not wish to be ruled by another power. Loss of democracy is the next stage. You can be free of a foreign power but still not be in a democracy. Even in the UK we still do not have a democratic system. Our first past the post system does not allow smaller parties to gain representation in Parliament. At local level, many if not all authorities are run by “cabinet systems” which means that important decisions are taken by a small group of people. Another example is the House of Lords. It is filled with unelected people, many of whom have been personally selected by all political parties for “services rendered” and are being paid for by taxpayers.
In the case of the EU it is even worse. As each year goes by the unelected Commission of 28 people dream up Directives and Regulations which are rubber-stamped by the EU parliament and passed on to 28 EU countries for further rubber stamping. Our own parliament will eventually mean nothing and our elections every 5 years will just take place in order to create an illusion of freedom and democracy.

8. If we leave the EU – what will it be like ?
Leaving the EU will restore our freedom which is the basic desire of all nation states. We can then make our own laws and create our own destiny.
• Turning to immediate matters we will begin a period of trade negotiations which are provided for under article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. During this period we can begin to take back control of our borders and set up our own Australian style points based immigration scheme. There will be no deportation of EU citizens. By controlling immigration we can ensure that there is enough housing, schools, hospitals for everyone as well as having enough for welfare payments. Around 300,000 net migration has been placing a severe strain on our costs.
• We will set up a British Bill of Human Rights to better protect the people of the UK. It will mean that we are able to deport migrant rapists, paedophiles, and drug dealers from the UK which is something that we currently find difficult to do.
• In the long term we will be free to set up Trade Agreements throughout the world which has a population of 7bn people as well as trading with the EU with a population of ½ bn people.
• Small and medium business – they will be free from time consuming excessive regulation in the form of paperwork.

• Farmers will be guaranteed their existing farm payments as confirmed by both PM Cameron and Farming Minister George Eustice. We send £6bn to the EU and receive £3bn back in return. There will be sufficient money to guarantee their payments as well as freeing them from the excessive paperwork they have to contend with.

• We will take back our Fishing Industry which PM Edward Heath had to hand to the Common Market in 1972 ( as it was known then ) as a condition of applying for entry. Our fishing limits which extended 200 miles from our shoreline were reduced to 12 miles handing the fishing rights to many EU countries including Spain, Portugal and France. 100,000 jobs were lost in Scotland alone.

In summary, the UK will enter a new Golden Age where we will be able to revitalise our trade
across the world bringing new opportunities to our shore which in turn will revitalise our
manufacturing and attract inward investment. Fishing and farming will thrive once again but
more importantly we will restore our freedom and democracy.

9. Why was the EU created in the first place ?

France and Germany had experienced four bitter wars. The first in the early 1800’s with the Napoleonic wars , then in 1870 between Prussia and France, then again in 1914/18 and again in 1939/45. West Germany began their first big step toward making amends with France in March of 1950. They made a peace treaty with the French that ended the conflict that had been going on since the early 1800s. The peace treaty was a step toward assuring the Allies that there was no possibility of German expansion and the outbreak of another war, the only things the Allies required to guarantee West Germany its autonomy. In May 1950, France and West Germany made a treaty that gave joint control of the steel and coal industry in Germany and France making it “not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible”3 to have a war between the two countries. This treaty was called the Schuman Plan and was a large step toward France’s approval of West Germany’s autonomy. Soon after, the European Coal and Steel Community was established consisting of six European powers ( Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Holland and West Germany ). As a result of these actions, West Germany became accepted again in European affairs. In short this was a condition of the allies so that Germany could no longer expand into Europe.

The Allies would not let go of the country until they were absolutely sure that Germany would not return as a threat. On May 27, 1952, a defensive treaty against Russia called the European Defence Treaty was proposed between France, Italy, Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium. This was to create an army that was composed of all these countries under the command of NATO. The French Assembly rejected this treaty for fear of the West German army, and as a result, attempts to unify West Germany under its own authority were very temporarily dropped. The UK, on October 3, 1952, made the last step that France needed to be assured that Germany was not a threat by declaring that the UK would maintain a military presence on mainland Europe. This gave France the security they wanted against a German invasion. France then agreed to end their occupation of West Germany.

NATO was established in 1949. The first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, stated in 1949 that the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”. NATO has ensured peace throughout Europe since it was established. France left NATO in 1966 and returned in 2009. Xavier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy chief at the time, said France’s re-entry into NATO would benefit security in Europe.

British troops have been stationed in Germany since the end of the second World War and in 2016, it has been announced that 11,000 will be withdrawn with the remaining 4,500 withdrawn in 2019.

In summary, peace in Europe was a condition of the allies and maintained by NATO. The
development of the EU has come about for this reason. The ongoing development of the EU
was backed by PM Winston Churchill but he was clear that it would not involve the UK as he
stated to Charles de Gaul “”When I have to choose between you and Roosevelt, you should
know that I will always choose Roosevelt (US President). And when I have to choose
between Europe and the wide open seas…I will always choose the wide open seas.”

10. Do we benefit from being near Europe or benefit from being in the EU ?

Being near Europe is a benefit inasmuch that our exports do not have to travel too far. Being in the EU would be a benefit if it was not for the imposition of political union which has removed our freedom and democracy. We used to be members of EFTA (European Free Trade Area ) which was simply a Free Trade trading bloc. We all benefited as this stimulated trade which rose from 3.5bn US dollars in 1959 to 8.2bn US dollars in 1967. We were all free to strike our own trade deals and importantly it was not a political union.

Many countries trade with the EU – namely China, US, India, Brazil, Russia and so on but they have not formed a political union nor do they accept freedom of movement. Nor should we. Please remember, PM Edward Heath took us into the Common Market in 1973, without a referendum, and promising us that there would be no loss of freedom. We thought we were entering a larger trading bloc, not a political union. All of our political parties have maintained this deception for over 40 years. The People have had enough and wish to control their own destiny in the same way that our colonies demanded their freedom.

I hope this answers all of your questions.

Stephen Fitzgerald
Project Leader – SOEU
http://www.soeu.co.uk

Lave Broch said:

1. Hi Isabel, I hope that more and more people will understand that the EU is a huge problem for democracy. Around 90 % of the EU laws are never being debated in the Danish parliament and I guess that is the same for the UK. Every time we give the EU power over an area than the national parliament loses the right to make law proposals about that question. In Denmark we have an increasing opposition to the EU and the cross political People’s Movement against the EU is growing. I hope that the UK and Denmark can leave the EU together. I also know that there is growing opposition in other countries.

2. Hello Ishante, I think that we actively must work against chauvinism and racism but that nationalism also can be of a kind where you like your country. If nationalism is about carrying about your country and not turned against other nations it can be good. It is important that we care about the place we live (the nature, how we treat people etc.) and that it is also helpful for the rest of the world because we are connected. I am happy that the world is getting more international and I think that we shall support that development but in the same time give democracy the best conditions and respect that there are national differences in how we want to build a society. I want a global oriented Denmark that is democratic and that is why I am against the EU.

3. Hi Beulah, Yes I agree. It is great that we can work, travel, study and live in other countries. But those benefits we can also get by being member of EFTA where Denmark and the UK used to be members before we joined the EU. So I am supporting that we leave the EU and joins EFTA where Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are members. Their citizens have benefits of free movement of people in both the EU and EFTA countries.

4. Hi Sandra, I cannot see why leaving the EU would increase the British trade deficit. I think that the UK will be able to make more trade deals with countries from the whole world after BREXIT and that it is a matter of British products to be attractive on the world market. Leaving the EU will make the UK save money and some of that can be used to create better educations and innovation that will increase British trade.

5. Hi Sheriff, I think it is good that we have international and national courts but the EU court is also developing laws and that is very problematic seen from a democratic point of view. It is a reason why it is better to leave the EU. We need to create better conditions for democracy.

6. Hello Nathan, I think that EU has a responsibility in what is going on but that there are more to blame than the EU. When you look at the refugee crisis you have to look at 1) what makes refugees flee and 2) what is happening when they are trying to find safety. When it comes to what makes refugees into refugees I would say that The EU has a big responsibility. The EU is for instance making fishery in poor countries with the result that local fishermen are losing their foundation for a living (see this link: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/apr/02/eu-fishing-west-africa-mauritania). The EU’s trade policy has for a long time been undermining local production in poor countries and the EU is also supporting the weapon industry that is selling weapons to dictatorships that are violating human rights. Created in 2004, the EU Defense Agency contributes actively to the development of the EU weapon industry. You can read more about it here from the EU’s own website: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/atyourservice/en/displayFtu.html?ftuId=FTU_5.9.5.html – Also the EU’s foreign policy has several times been a problem in the work for peace. An example is the EU’s terror branding of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka that was devastating for the Norwegian led peace process. The result of the EU action was that the peace process fell apart and that over 60.000 was killed in the war that came after that. Here is an article in Danish about it (perhaps you can use google translate): https://www.information.dk/udland/2009/02/tigre-paa-terrorliste-forvaerrer-sri-lanka-konflikt
And when it comes to what is happening when refugees are trying to escape the EU is partly to blame. For a long time the EU made deals with dictatorships about refugees and still EU have deals that are problematic. For instance the deal with Turkey is problematic if you are a refugee from the Kurdish community. And in general there are problems with Frontex (see this e-mail: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_EO-13-17_en.htm ). However some of the problems are also due to national policies. Some of those can be influenced by the EU but also some countries are to be blamed. I think that we should coordinate help to the refugees through the UN and in general strengthen the UN instead of building an EU super power.

7. Hello Lessia, I think that one of the main problems for Greece and Ireland is that they joined the euro and also the EU’s fiscal treaty and other sides of EU’s economic sides. After doing that they have limited their democracies and other EU governments and the EU itself can make decisions that is not supported in the specific countries. I think that those countries would be better off if the liberated themselves from the EU and the euro. If you look at a country like Iceland that also went through a huge financial crisis then it is obvious that Iceland had more tools to handle the crisis. By letting the Icelandic currency devaluate Iceland made a more fair way of solving the problem, but if you have the euro you cannot devaluate so Greece and Ireland had to find other ways and that meant less salary, higher taxes, less public workers, cutting down welfare, lower pensions etc. People with small incomes had to carry a higher part of the burden than if you devaluate the currency. So I think it is a better tool to keep your currency. Also it is very problematic that other countries politicians are making decisions in countries where they are not elected.

8. Hello Rene, If the UK withdraw from the EU there will be many alternatives. First of all it can lead to an alternative in how democracy is being treated so that you get more influence. But internationally seen I think it would be great if the UK and my country Denmark would join EFTA where Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein are members. Here is a link to EFTA: http://www.efta.int/> and then we could continue with a practical cooperation with the EFTA and the EU countries through EFTA. Also I think it would be great if our countries would strengthen the Council of Europe so that it is more resources to work for respect of human rights and I think that we should give more resources to the UN. I guess that seen from the UK you also have the Commonwealth and seen from Denmark we have the Nordic cooperation.

9. Hello Christo, I think there are many reasons why EU was created some probably did it because of great reasons for instance because some wanted cooperation and peace and others did it because they were dreaming of United States of Europe or earn more money. But I think what we have to look at what the EU is today. The EU is not an organization that increases democracy and the EU has to often been a problem for peace. The EU’s terrorlist is for instance a huge problem that makes it very difficult to negotiate peace in many conflicts. So no matter good or bad intentions at the beginning I think we should build a better international cooperation than the EU. Leaving the EU is the first step.

10. Hi Beth, I think all nations benefit from cooperating with other nations. Both the UK and Denmark benefits from trade and that we interact across borders. Neither the UK nor Denmark really benefits from the EU because there are too many disadvantages by being member of the EU and the good things from the EU we could get by being member of EFTA like Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein. So leaving the EU is best for the UK and Denmark.

Richard Lewis said:

1.Hello Isabel. It’s interesting that you think that the EU is dictatorial. EU law is only proposed after a great deal of consultation with interested parties. Then in order to become law it has to pass the Council of Ministers, consisting of elected representatives (ministers) of each member state and then, in a process called co-decision, by the European Parliament elected by universal suffrage. So, it’s not imposed. The UK has a full voice in all this process.

2. Hi Ishante. Nationalism is a scourge that has plagued Europe for hundreds of years and caused two major wars in the last century. We also saw it rear its ugly head in the 1990’s in former Yugoslavia. Of course, the EU is not the only answer to nationalism but one of the reasons for the EU’s foundation was to link Europe’s national economies to make purely national interests, for example in trade, undesirable and war unthinkable. Why would you do down a neighbouring country if your economy and prosperity is linked to it ? In the current situation, there are signs of rising nationalism. Those political parties that want to leave the EU, for example the National Front in France, are clearly acting in purely national interests. The EU puts a break on their ambitions because it acts in the interests of all its member states, which is why the National Front is against it.

3. Beulah:You are right that free movement of people brings skills and needed labour to the UK. The National Health Service would be lost without immigrant doctors and nurses. Some, of course, are from outside the EU but many are from EU countries. Incidentally, studies show consistently that immigrants pay more into the tax base than they take out of it in benefits. Free movement of labour, together with free movement of goods and capital is one of the founding principles of the EU. Without it there would be no common market because people would not be allowed to move to where labour is needed. If there were no EU rules on freedom of movement, then each individual member state of the EU would have to negotiate with every other member in order to admit migrants. So, it’s simpler and more consistent to organize this centrally.

4. Hello Sandra. No-one can predict with complete accuracy whether the trade deficit would go up or down. However, most of the authoritative economic bodies in the world such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Monetary Fund as well the UK based Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Bank of England predict that the British economy would be hit hard especially in the short term. British exit from the EU would hit inward investment because of the uncertainty it would create. It would also affect job prospects for young people such as yourself . It will take a long time, maybe between 10-20 years ,before the UK could disentangle itself entirely from the EU legislation and such uncertainty hinders economic growth . Much depends on the outcome of the negotiations between the UK and the other member states if the vote on June 23rd goes in favour of British exit This is surely an unnecessary self-imposed burden.

5 Good evening Sheriff. You may be thinking of two sets of judges. The judges of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the judges of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Practically all judges throughout the world are appointed not elected and the these two courts are no exception. Only in some countries, for example the United States, are some judges elected. Both the ECJ and the ECHR include British judges. Judges do not make law, they interpret it, sometimes with important consequences. But they do not legislate. The ECJ and the ECHR are quite distinct. The ECJ is an EU institution and interprets EU law. The ECHR is a body of the Council of Europe yhat is a quite distinct and separate institution from the EU with a different membership and aims. It’s easy to confuse the two! Incidentally, the UK was one of the founding members of the Council of Europe and British lawyers largely wrote the rules relating to human rights in Europe. The upshot of all this that leaving the EU would not affect the ECHR, if you are thinking of human rights law.

6.Nathan, you are right to bring this matter up. Actually the figures that I have are actually worse than yours – 30,000 since 1990 and just this year 2016 over 2500 have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean. The migration crisis is complex and there are no easy answers. The EU is not directly to blame. The migration is caused by having rich countries to the north of the Mediterranean and poor countries to the south plus war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. This constitutes an incentive for them to move. People want to better their lives and this is understandable .The Italian and other navies have rescued thousands of people. The deaths are also caused by unscrupulous migrant traffickers who put these unfortunate people in totally unseaworthy boats and expect the EU authorities to rescue them. That said, the EU’s policy responses to the migration crisis can well be criticized. Members of the EU have not acted together to solve the crisis but have taken unilateral action. Against this, you have to realize that a million plus people arriving over the course of a few months has caused huge logistical problems. Where to house them and how to feed them are just the beginning of the problem, to say nothing of providing education for thousands of children.

7.Lessia, I am not certain what you mean by “lack of democracy.” If you mean that the system by which EU laws are made is not the same as the British system then you are correct. But other democracies such as the United States and France have cabinets (ministers) that are appointed and not elected. They are confirmed by elected bodies such as the Congress in the United States. This is the same system as in the EU. Commissioners who are appointed by their respective countries and have to undergo interrogation and confirmation by the European Parliament which is an elected body. The Commissioners do not make law but they can propose it. The laws are passed by the Council of Ministers consisting of elected representatives of the member states plus the European Parliament. In addition, the EU acts on the principle of “subsidiarity”. This means that laws should be passed at the level closest to the people. In other words, the EU does not legislate if it’s more appropriate for national parliaments to do so

8. Dear Rene: If the UK withdraws from the EU, there is a process to be followed that is set out in the treaties by which the EU is formed (article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty). There would be a two year period of negotiation during which the UK on one side and the rest of the EU on the other would negotiate the arrangements. Thus, we do not know what the situation would be in the future. There have been suggestions that the UK’s relationship with the EU would be like Norway or Switzerland or even Canada. These countries have negotiated special arrangements with the EU that allow them privileged access to EU markets. However, assuming that the UK would want to stay in the single market in order not to be faced with tariffs or other barriers to selling its products to the EU, the EU would impose certain conditions similar to those that apply to Norway or Switzerland. The UK would have to abide by the rules of the single market such as product standards, pay into the EU budget and allow free movement of people. All this would be without a seat in the Council of Ministers and little influence on single market rules. It is therefore hard to see the advantage of leaving the EU under these terms.

9. Hi Hristo. The reason why the EU was created was first and foremost to try and prevent the murderous wars to which Europe has been prone over hundreds of years. This would be achieved by sharing sovereignty and decision making over key issues such as trade and important industries such as coal and steel that are essential for making war. Secondly, the idea was to create a “common market” now mostly known as the “single market” which could compete on equal terms with economic giants such as the United States and China and protect Europe’s influence in the world and its prosperity.

10. Hi Beth. The UK has a close relationship with both the EU institutions and the member states both collectively and separately. That is why the EU appears to be such a complicated body. The institutions of the EU – mainly the European Commission, the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice (but there are others) – make sure that the treaties binding the member states together work properly and fairly. They propose the rules and pass them into law. The UK participates fully in this process. This does not mean that the UK no longer has a political and diplomatic relationship with each of the members of the EU. The relationship is even closer as a result of the EU. Here’s an example. If your country doesn’t have an embassy in a country you are visiting and you have a problem such as an accident or being hospitalized, you can ask assistance from the embassy of any other member state.

Peter Bottomley said:

Isabel, dictatorial? Better off out? Where is the evidence that that is what more people now understand? After a recent school debate, 33 voted to leave, 133 to remain.

Ishante, we may agree that it is normal to have feelings and interests that are individual, familial, local, regional, national, continental, international and global. Sometimes they overlap.

Beulah, free movement has existed where people or governments agree: Ireland and the United Kingdom provide an example, so do Canada and the USA.

The EU’s Single Market includes freedom to move to work. We can notice that there are passport / identity checks when travelling into and out of the U.K. to EU (except Ireland) and to other countries.

Sandra, probably.

Sheriff, wonder whether this opinion distinguishes between the European court and the Human Rights court. British judges are unelected. Is that a problem too?

Nathan, the existence of the EU and the attractions of countries in the EU and EFTA are associated with stability, prosperity and democracy. I would not choose to use the words ‘blame’ and ‘problem’.

Lessia, the democratic systems in Greece and in Ireland were managed by themselves. Ireland chose how to respond to the collapse of the bubble of the ‘Celtic tiger’ and to the consequences of their banking crisis.

The Greeks elected a political movement led by people who claimed they would not adjust to realities. Later, that government changed its approach.

I guess Ireland did not need special guidance; Greece probably did.

Rene, there is not an available alternative grouping other than EFTA.

Hristo, leaders in France, Germany and Belgium joined with Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Italy decided on initial treaties on coal, iron and dyer to reduce the possibility of future conflict.

Beth, Yes and Yes.

L Alan Winters said:

Sandra: Increase in the trade deficit
Leaving will probably increase the trade deficit for at least a couple of years – exports will decline faster than imports. But that is more a symptom than a disease. There are two serious problems lurking beneath the symptom. First, if we have a trade deficit, imports exceed exports and we have to borrow to finance the difference. If lenders thought that Brexit weakened the economy (as most actually seem to think) they would be less willing to lend. Then we’d either have to raise interest rates, which would reduce investment and hit people who had mortgages, or see a big devaluation in sterling (a reduction the value of the pound in terms of other currencies). That’s the second problem: to sell more exports in order to eliminate the deficit, we’d need to devalue. That means that to buy a dollar’s worth of goods on the world market we’d have to sell more of our own goods, so there would be less left over for UK consumption – we’d have less to consume which means we’d be worse off.

Alesia: The EU imposes austerity on Greece and other poorer members.
Over the last two decades Greece consumed much more than it produced and had to borrow huge amounts to make up the difference. Greece may (democratically) decide that it doesn’t want to pay these debts back, but you can see why its lenders might think that is less than fair. Much of the debt came from EU countries, but any creditor would feel the same. However, having said that, Greece is never going to be able to pay off these debts so the sensible thing is for the lenders to forgive a chunk of them (i.e. just accept that they have lost their money) and move on. Then the Greek economy might start to grow a bit more. The issue is not really the EU, but the politics of certain European creditor countries – e.g. Germany, Finland – who find it difficult to persuade their voters to give up on their money. If Greece had borrowed from some other source, it might have been allowed to have a slightly less tight policies, and the EU might usefully have a slightly more relaxed attitude towards its member governments’ borrowing, but these are minor issues compared with Greece’s basic problem of having borrowed too much and having to pay it back.

Heristo: why was the EU created?
By 1945 France and Germany had had three major wars in less than a century and some far-sighted people in each country thought that if the economies were bound together war would be “not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible”. It all started with the European Coal and Steel Community (1951), which bound these industries together across countries. The next step was the European Economic Community in 1957 and this led eventually to the European Union. Britain stood aloof but in the 1960s decided that the economic cost of being outside this large and dynamic group was too high and we joined in 1973. The trick worked! Europe has had its most peaceful half century ever, and at least some of us worry that if we had Brexit and then the EU unravelled, peace would be somewhat less assured.

Beth: Is it being close to Europe or being in the European Union that matters?
Both really. We’ll always trade a lot with Europe precisely because it is close. But because we are a member of the EU that trade is easier because we are assured that there will be no barriers thrown up and we have a whole series of common standards and practices.

Amar Patel said:

I’ve compiled the key points for and against the EU here, focusing on the most reliable sources and avoiding the nonsense. It’s a close call. This will answer a few of your questions, hopefully.

http://www.imakesense.org/blog/eu-referendum-leave-or-remain

Anne Deighton said:

Only democratic countries can join the EU. The top decision making body – Council is composed of ministers elected in those countries. The European Commission officials have a ‘rule book’ for policies, and the European Parliament has lots of powers to reinforce our democratic decision making. Dictatorial is the wrong word I am afraid, especially sad to hear that about countries which have emerged from real dictatorship – Iberian peninsular and east Europe. It is always work in progress, but no one has to join!
Judges are virtually never elected, but are chosen, true in the UK you know. We need them for impartiality and experience and knowledge!
Alternatives: no one has come up with a good idea. We in UK were snooty about the project for ten years and then did our best to join up, as we had tried other ways that did not work (FTA) and were falling behind badly. We would be up a creek without a paddle again if we left – no brexit plan, so be afraid of what they think they want!

Karen Smith said:

All very good questions! I’ll try to provide answers to a few of them, firstly by providing a short explanation of how laws are decided and enforced in the EU. All EU laws are decided by all 28 member states in the Council of the EU; many of these laws can be decided by a ‘qualified majority’ , but usually the member states try to reach a consensus. It was the member states together (pushed in fact by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) who decided that it would be good to decide laws by a qualified majority of states (not unanimity) because that way one or two member states would not be able to block everyone else. So, for example, if France wanted to block the imports of, say, British beef, they could be overruled by a qualified majority. In addition, the European Parliament has to approve the laws too. The European Commission is there to propose laws (almost always having consulted not just member states, but NGOs, companies, and experts), but it does not decide them. The European Commission also helps to make sure all the member states are obeying the laws they agreed. The European Court of Justice, which is made up of judges from every member state, decides that all the states are applying the rules in the same way. For this reason, we can’t really say that the EU forces us to do anything we don’t want to, because we have been part of the decision-making process: our elected governments send their ministers to the Council; we elect MEPs to serve in the Parliament. And in fact, UK has a lot of influence in decision-making: we are almost always on the ‘winning side’. The other key thing to remember is that most UK laws do not come from the EU: there are many, many areas where national governments make most decisions: for example, on social welfare or health policies, etc.

If we were out of the EU, there are no really good alternatives. If we want to trade with any country (whether in the EU or not), our products and services have to comply with the laws of that country (and vice versa: China, for example, can’t try to sell unsafe toys to us). By being in the EU, we have access to the single European market AND we help decide the rules. If we were outside the EU and wanted to trade with the EU, then we will still have to obey the EU rules. It’d be much better to be able to decide the rules we’d have to comply with anyway!

Being in a club, any club, involves compromise. To be in NATO, we have to promise to defend our allies, and to do other things such as spend a certain percentage of GDP on defence. There are many who would argue that actually NATO is hardly democratic and is entirely dominated by the one large country at the centre (the US), so our power inside NATO is actually much more limited than it is in the US. Yet we accept this because we think the alliance provides us with security that we could not have if we were outside NATO.

The EU was created to solve the problems posed by national sovereignty, which had led to two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. The idea was to create a club – with rules – so that member states would learn to trust each other (and not build up their armies against each other) and trade with each other more (and so become more prosperous and so be able to afford relatively generous welfare states). Enlargement has spread this zone of relative prosperity and peace to countries that had suffered under authoritarian or communist regimes.

Is it perfect? No. Would life be better outside it? No. Why? Because overall the benefits vastly outweigh the costs. In the 21st century, the way states influence each other (and try to influence things such as terrorism, globalisation, or refugee flows) is by creating and participating in networks. The UK is at the heart of many of those networks (and one of the most important of those networks is the EU). Standing on the outside would not give us any more power to address the many serious problems the world is facing; in fact, quite the opposite. Because other states – such as the US or Canada – want to deal with networks that matter, not countries going it alone. That is why the leaders of those countries have in fact stated that they think the UK should stay in the EU.

Mark Wallace said:

Thank you all for your questions. To answer them in order:

1) Isabel – yes, I think there’s growing awareness of the fact the EU is fundamentally anti-democratic. The experience of Greece, which voted against Brussels’ policies but was ignored, helped to highlight that. But mostly people still just see the symptoms of a lack of democracy – the high cost, the arrogant leaders, the bad laws etc

2) Ashante – I’d argue there’s a difference between nationalism, the aggressive belief your country must be best and most powerful, and the idea of a world of nation states that get on together by living freely alongside each other. The nation has proved to be the most successful way for people to live democratically together and to build a successful, prosperous society. If anything, Britain leaving the EU would help to reduce the type of nationalism I’m guessing you’re concerned about – forcing Europe’s nations together into an artificial, undemocratic EU has led to a rise in extremism across the continent, including in France, Germany, Greece, Austria, Hungary and Italy. Outside the EU we can be friendly neighbours rather than frustrated flatmates.

3) Viola. In a word: no. We don’t need the EU to have open borders – there are several European countries like Norway which choose democratically to have a free movement policy. Whatever your view on borders and migration, the best solution has got to be democratic control of the decision.

4) Sandra – no, I think leaving the EU is a big opportunity for us to increase our exports. At the moment, we are only free to sell within the EU, which is a market with a shrinking share of the global economy. Our trade policy with other, non-EU countries, is controlled by the EU, which is very bad at making deals, and so we are restricted in our access to the global markets where the most growth is taking place. Outside we’d be able to strike a free trade deal with the EU but also be free to make new deals with other parts of the world who would love to buy our produce and goods.

5) Sharif – you’re absolutely right. It’s a key principle for me that anyone making laws should be elected by the people and should be at risk of being sacked by the people. The EU fails that essential test.

6) Nathan – the tragedy we see in the Mediterranean and the Aegean today certainly hasn’t been helped by the EU, though I would argue the main people to blame are ruthless people smuggling gangs. The EU has made two serious errors which made the situation worse: a) the abolition of borders across the EU is a good incentive for people to try dangerous routes to illegally gain access, as they are then free to move across the whole of the Schengen Zone, b) Angela Merkel and others irresponsibly sent out the message that if people managed to get to some EU countries illegally then they would be settled there – this encouraged desperate people to risk their lives and their families’ lives in these hugely dangerous crossings.

7) Lessia (apologies if I have spelled your name incorrectly) – The best way to solve problems is always democratically. Not only does putting unelected officials in charge of economic policy or law-making cause anger and frustration (see Q2) but it also makes for bad economic policy and bad law, as there is no accountability. The huge numbers of unemployed young people in the Southern EU countries are victims of this problem.

8) Renée – the alternative to the EU is to live the way the vast majority of the world’s countries live: governing ourselves democratically, choosing which trade deals and alliances we make, and treating the whole world as a place to make friends and do business, rather than trapping ourselves in this EU club.

9) Haristo – The EU was created as an idea in the 1950s, when a number of concepts were common: that Europe was the crucial world region, that centralisation was always stronger and that the nations of Europe would always be at risk of repeating a World War if left to their own devices. This is part of the problem with today’s EU – Europe isn’t the centre of the world any more, centralisation has been tried and has failed, and the peoples of Europe have proved themselves more than capable of governing themselves happily. It’s an outdated 1950s idea that has survived into the 21st century by accident.

10) Bev – Being part of the EU is all cost – at least £9 billion a year in taxes, and billions more in the cost of regulations and lost trading opportunities – without much benefit. We have always benefited from trade and alliances with European countries, and those would continue without the EU.

I hope this answers your questions! We discuss these and many other issues daily at ConservativeHome.com, or you can ask more directly on Twitter @wallaceme

Colin Mair said:

1. People generally do not understand how dictatorial the EU is. Media coverage has been difficult to pull apart and analyse. There are some source materials worth looking at, such as ‘Brexit the Movie’. I’m touring our area in Lincolnshire showing this film followed by Q&A session and would appreciate people from both sides and all ages joining in. There are other materials such as books by Daniel Hannan and Olly Figg as well as the recent documentary by Jeremy Paxman.

2. Nationalism can develop as an extreme reaction to threat and the recent upsurge in European countries is very worrying. There is another facet to nationalism where we should be proud of the country we live in, the people, culture and language. I have worked round the world and have seen no problem working with people in many countries who see the globe as a single market and a great opportunity.

3. I have moved freely round the world and still have a green card for the USA (although it is actually pink). I work as Technical Director for a company in Taiwan and a company in Thailand and done a lot of work with companies in Australia and South Africa. I also worked and travelled round the EU with a similar degree of freedom. Free movement does create opportunities but mass migration without control can create even more problems. We need to find a balance.

4. Leaving the EU does not mean we will leave Europe. The EU and countries in the EU trade with the USA, India, Russia and China without having a trade agreement. The World Trade Organisation has been responsible for reducing punishing trade tariffs and as net importers from EU countries they would be crazy to cut off one of their biggest customers. Europe is the second slowest growing continent on Earth in terms of economic growth, the slowest continent being Antarctica. In other words we would do well to grow our relationships with the whole world to tackle our deficit.

5. We find ourselves being over-ruled time after time by the European court. There are serious grumblings that we are in danger of losing out fundamental rights as originally defined 800 years ago in Magna Carta and the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) does not require the same burden of proof in many countries as in the UK. The EAW was originally designed to aid the fight against terrorism and serious crime but is being abused in some cases to pursue people who are accused of quite trivial offences. We presume people innocent until proven guilty and should be proud of our justice system, at the same time recognising its flaws, for example the disgraceful way the Birmingham 6 were treated. At least we can elect a parliament that knows it has a mandate to follow the will of the people in this country, including the application of justice.

6. Migrants losing their lives trying to get to Europe is an ongoing tragedy. A lot of very senior people in the EU seem at a complete loss in terms of finding a solution to this issue. We between us created the dreadful situation in middle eastern countries and we should do all we can to help those affected by war, and we are not doing enough to help these people. I am saddened by the lack of a concerted team effort from the EU. At the same time a massive wave of economic migrants is surging into Europe and we seem to be unable to stop this. We must let these people know that unfortunately we have to control the influx and return all those who simply turn up at the borders. The aim should be to help the world to develop, not expect the whole world to come here. Until we resolve this people will continue to die.

7. Countries in the Eurozone have been hit hard by losing their traditional way of dealing with the consequences of a recession, devaluing the currency and allowing inflation, with the final extreme measure of defaulting on loans. This puts them in the hands of the European Central Bank which leads to the harsh conditions imposed on, for example, Greece and Ireland. This highlights the failure of the Euro experiment.

8. If the UK withdraws from the EU we will not withdraw from Europe, as many seem to think. Our trade with the EU has been steadily shrinking as trade with the rest of the world has been growing. This trend will continue as we continue to buy German cars and French cheese. An interesting question is why do we buy so many ‘New World’ wines and so few French wines when in theory lack of tariffs from France and easy logistics would make one expect that we bought a lot more French wine.

9. There was a man called Monsieur Monet who quite categorically stated in 1952 that the aim was integration into a federal European state. This was written into the original treaty we signed but got missed in the small print, when everybody thought we were joining a common market. Many people across Europe are alarmed at the breakneck speed the EU is racing towards this federal superstate and a lot of us in the UK re saying we want to retain our sovereignty and democracy.

10. We naturally benefit from being geographically close to European countries but the stifling bureaucratic restrictions being imposed by the EU are severely reducing the performance and growth of all EU countries. An EU following closely the model of post war Germany would recreate the miracle that made Germany such a successful country in a very short time. Our best hope is we shake up and simplify the EU bureaucracy and all countries in Europe are given the freedom to be successful.

Robert Leach said:

My answers: – I believe the UK will benefit by leaving the EU – there is a serious democratic deficit in how the EU is run – nationalism in the sense of being proud of your country is not a problem. It is, after all, the basis of international sporting events. The problem comes from seeing other nations or races as inferior. Each country should be independent and proud, while respecting the rights of other countries to feel the same – free movement does not depend on being in a political union. USA and Canada has had free movement for more than 100 years. The UK has an open border with the Irish Republic – the trade deficit is primarily caused by a lack of productivity in the UK – it is ludicrous for UK law to be determined by European judges. They have a completely different system of law, based on a code rather than common law, and their courts use the inquisitorial system rather than the UK adversarial system – the UK needs to control migration, not ban it. The problem is not to do with the migrants themselves as the vast number of them that is overwhelming UK resource – the EU is not democratic. Its leaders are unelected and the Parliament cannot initiate laws – the alternative is that the UK becomes an independent state, remaining friends and trading with and co-operating with all 198 countries of the world, and not being in a protectionist cartel of 28 countries – the EU was formed in the 1950s with the worthy aim of preventing another dreadful war, But what worked in our grandparents’ generation is not necessarily right for today. In the 1950s, East Europe was under Communist rule and many West European countries were under military rule or dictatorship. No-one foresaw that they would become peace-loving democracies. It is democracy that prevents war. There has never been a war between democracies – the EU benefits far more from UK membership than the UK. It imposes extra costs on businesses and farms, and has in effect shut down most of our fishing industry. We pay £55 million a day of which about half comes back in the form of what the EU wants to spend our money on.

Andy Crick said:

To answer some of the questions:

1. We can fight nationalism through greater interaction between people. For example, most areases with high levels of immigration show far higher levels of understanding. Nationalism is bred by fear and fear can be defeated by engagement. Nationalism is fear. We can be patriotic, British AND European.

2. European integration came about after the devastation of the Second World War, the third conflict between France and Germany in just 80 years. The plan was quite simply to put the physical means to wage war – coal and steel – beyond the reach of these two governments. This was the basis of the Schuman Plan (named after a French Minister) but the dream was also to stop all wars in Europe, to defeat the nationalism which had caused the earlier conflicts and, quite simply, to make life easier for people living in Europe. There was also a more ‘realist’ need to stand up to the communist dictatorship in Russia but the ambition for Europe was always far more than this. Europe is imperfect but what has been achieved since 1950 is remarkable, making our continent one of the richest, most prosperous and most peaceful areas of the world. The EU is without question the most successful international organisation ever, growing from 6 states in 1952 to 28 now, with a queue of applicants.

3. If we leave the EU, the world won’t stop turning and our borders most definitely will not close but we will lose the clear benefits of the world’s largest market, giving us huge opportunities to live, work and travel with such ease in 28 states, with free healthcare, reduced currency costs and social benefits which we could not guarantee if we left. If we leave and we want to trade with the EU, we will have to accept all the rules with no say in their creation. Smart choice?

4. The answer to the refugee crisis is (i) stop bombing other countries (ii) fund refugee camps in the area close to the conflicts – Jordan has more than 2m Syrian refugees and needs our money to help them (iii) engage with all sides in the conflicts, regardless of how unpleasant they may be, to achieve peace first and foremost (iv) support our fellow Europeans in Greece and Italy in particular to deal with refugees humanely (v) accept a proportion of the refugees and demand that other European countries do likewise. As on so many other things, the UK should lead – and other countries look to us to do so. The UK government is already supporting refugee camps in the region far more than other countries, which is to our credit and their shame.Above all, the answer to most questions is the same: engage!

Ben Samuel said:

1) No I don’t think we’d be better of out of it! As a supporter of the Group DieM, I think the council of ministers should live-stream their meetings so people can see what is going on, like the European Parliament.

2) Hi Ashante, my views are that Nationalism is an out-dated concept for the last 50 years. It’s making a come-back as part of far-right movements which I think is a bad thing, but I think Scottish, Welsh, and Palestinian nationalism is a good thing, so we should tackle it though solidarity. As a Jew I wish Israel would be less nationalistic.

3) Absolutely we need the EU but we need to change “fortress” Europe by abolishing FRONTEX, the EU border agency and promote legal and safe ways of getting to Europe.

4) To be honest I don’t know enough about the subject and can’t predict the future. I just know we mustn’t take the risk. One way it could increase the trade deficit is if unemployment increased in deprived areas such as the North East region, South Wales, and Northern Ireland, but I am not sure if growing GDP or cutting trade deficit or the government’s deficit is a good thing to aspire to.

5) I oppose investor-state-dispute-settlement – ISDS, TTIP, and CETA, which would proliferate even worse unelected judges. By remaining in the EU we can make sure that TTIP and CETA with their ISDS clause never get signed. Romania is currently pledging to veto CETA.

6) Absolutely we need the EU but we need to change “fortress” Europe by abolishing FRONTEX, the EU border agency and promote legal and safe ways of getting to Europe.

7) I don’t speak for Greece or Ireland, but the premise that there is a lack of democracy is not the way to go about it. We’re trying to make the EU as democratic as humanly possible, but the best way to manage is together in solidarity.

8) Good question. This could take 2-10 years to re negotiate. If left wing people like us vote to leave, we’ll be handing over the keys to UKIP and the right wing of the Tory Party. They have failed to give me anything positive to hope for. These are campaigners who have said various worrying things. They advocate the cruelty of Australia’s immigration prisons and spend the money in impossible ways. They say “take back control” when it is they who are in control and we the 99% who will not be. The campaign has already led to anxiety, misleading statistics, and confusing policy. It will take years to work out how to create the alternative, and that work will cost money and be led by the Tory Government and their unelected civil servants. Do your research on these people and what they really believe in, because those belifs will shape our countries future.

9) Why I think the EU was created in the first place? I read a good text book about this by a group I am in called FYEG – Fyeg.org The EU has evolved over our history, but it started after the war to make an other war impossible, by sharing the resources like coal and steel. More recently it evolved from the common market, which Britain voted to join, to the things that we need to protect our rights in the workplace, so we have freedom for people and our environment as well as freedom for capital.

TheBrenski69 said:

It saddens me that this EU referendum has recently become about immigration as much as it has focused on the benefits and disadvantages of being a member of the European Union. The only salient fact for me is that the issues are complex, inter-related and in many cases the arguments are based on ‘what if scenarios’. Some good comments posted here, about justice and freedom and security and cohesion. My view is that none of us is as good as all of us working together. The ‘OUT’ campaign is advocating that divorce and separation are the only options as if the UK and EU are like a married couple given trade agreements, contractual relationships and cooperation. I like to think of the EU as a family, brothers and sisters joined by common interests and needs, hoping to get the best for all of us. That takes give as well as take, and sure things are not as perfect as they should be, but we should stick at it to make it better. The challenges this dysfunctional family faces is immense, but now is not the time to walk away. Forget about supposed facts and speculation. Think about the potential benefits if we can make it work better. Shame that we are reliant on a single party UK government to negotiate that improvement, but improve it can and should, and is best achieved by staying IN the EU.

Neville Watson said:

Great questions guys, I am going to attack this from a slightly different perspective and will not pull any punches. The current EU project has been built on lies, deception & corruption. The grandfather of the EU project, Jean Monnet said ” A superstate would be built without her people understanding, their would be a series of steps disguised as economic benefits”. The current EU chief Mr Juncker said “EU leaders need to be protected from public scrutiny, by lies if necessary and when it is serious, you have to lie”. Unfortunately our own PM has become well practised in the same duplicitous strategy. We are on the Titanic and been handed a lifeboat!! Please watch the movie below. http://www.brexitthemovie.com/

Andrew Graham said:

Hi, Great to hear from you.. My view on the EU referendum is this> The Eu orcommon market was how it was first known joined together by a small number of countries just after the world war. Since it has grown allowing a mix of richer and poorer countries to come together to share in trade, to combat terorism, to decide jointly on matters that affect climate change and of course human rights too. Most of the laws some 92% are passed by our own parliaments and the other 8% by the EU and its parliament where we send our elected representatives. Not all the laws passed will be in favour of one country or anoter but there is always compromise just like there has to be in all families. No the EU is not dictatorial Open borders are essential in the EU and that is why there is international co/operation to combat terrorism. The question of immigration is complex but we must not confuse the Syrian refuggee problem which affects us all. Desperate need has to be dealt with compassionately and with dignity. We are one race just with different coloured skin, languages and cultures but we should treat everyone with respect. When Britain joined the Common Market we were not the wealthiest country. In fact we needed help economically and it was in our interests to join. Now we are somewhat more wealthy we should help and support others like Greece. People have short memories. The decision to be in or out in mind rests on this> are we better in reforming and using our influence to make Europe better rather than coming out of the Europe and be ing isolated from the rest. We can do more to shape Europe than we have done in the past and we enhance our reputation as the country who did their best to help others in their greatest need rather than just protecting our own interests. In my view that- would put the Great back into Britain! Don-t believe the facts or figures, think not of ourselves if we are over 60 but of the generation to come that is why i have voted to stay IN!

John Redwood said:

Isabel- Yes, I do think more people understand that in many cases now we are told what laws we have to obey, what taxes we have to pay, and how we have to send money to other countries that we need to spend at home. The EU legislates in too many areas in too much detail which frustrates people and damages democracy.

Ishante-The EU seems to be fuelling nationalisms within Europe. Many of the insurgent parties that are springing up are nationally based, or based on what people would like to be nations again. We see it in the surge of Catalan, Scottish, Flemish, Northern Italian and other nationalisms, as people object to centralising power and the Euro and respond to the Europe of the regions agenda. Some of these nationalist parties are pro EU, but their hostility to the member state they live in uses the EU to foment divisions and tensions.

Beulah-Most of us want free movement for tourists, students and other travellers. However, many of us also think there has to be some limit on the numbers of people that can come and work in a country at any given time, given the difficulties of providing housing, healthcare and education for all who might wish to come. That requires national border policies.

Sandra-No. The immediate effect would be to cut the trade deficit, as the large contributions we make to the EU budget will cease. This is money we have to send out of the country and counts to increase our deficit. I don’t think our trade will be damaged, but if it is they sell us more than we sell them so imports would presumably suffer more than exports.

Sheriff-I agree. We should take back control of our law making.
Nathan-The main people to blame are the people smugglers and those who financed this cruel trade. There needs to be better border control and better systems for identifying refugees we wish to help, which probably requires member state controls rather than EU ones.

Lessia-Yes, I think they would. I hate the enforced austerity in Greece which is the wrong response to their economic crisis.
Rene-We will become an independent country like 165 others worldwide. We will continue to trade, be friends with and enter many joint ventures with the rest of the EU, but will no longer be governed by them.

Hristo-To create a united Europe. I think they had in mind a limited number of countries. The project becomes more and more difficult the more countries you seek to engage.

Beth-I think we can and do benefit from many of our links with other European countries, from our trade, cultural exchanges, university exchanges and the rest. We will continue with these after leaving. I find membership of the EU can damage relations between us and other European countries, and damages our democracy.

John Redwood
Member of Parliament for Wokingham

Hazel Thorpe said:

Great thought provoking questions for all of you guys. Thank you. I’ll try to be succinct in answering at least some of them. Taking the case of unelected judges – I’d ask would you prefer to have someone make judgesments upon us who were experts in their field internationally, trained in law or someone who is able to lobby vast numbers of people and likely to be fromthe top 2% of the wealthiest people inthe country? The Hillsborough Disaster Review was brought to a successful conclusiion for th families and victims of the disaster only because of the input from the Higher Court of Human Justice. My point here is that being elected doesn’t mean you are the right person for the job. If that were the case we wouldn’t be in this mess now. Many other cases of human rights have needed the support from the EU , without it they would still be suffering. We will still have free movement of people either in or out , the difference being that we work with France and other countries in partnership to control our borders within the EU. When Labour was in power , the electorate rejected ID cards rightly so as it denies people their human right to privacy, and we have survived terrorism. Immigrants and asylum seekers have been wrongly blamed for the castrophe which is overtaking them. It’s the elected politicians home and abroad that have caused the problem through the obscene arms trade, the denial of human rights, the denial of poverty , homelessness and the degradation of innocent children’s lives . Angela Merkel as a Christian Democrat , has tried to set the approach with her policy for assimilating , training and welcoming workers into her country. What is the alternative? What can be an alternative to a 40 year old system of 28 countries working together for peace , prosperity and people? Despite in faults, it certainly isn’t running away and pulling up the drawbridge saying I’m all right Jack ( I’ve got enough money that I can survive whatever happens. ) The benefits of being in a large instituton like the EU which is interlinked with Europe, is the positive opportunites for people to work to save the planet, air poluution knows no boundaries neitherdoes cancer or asthma , cures for which can only emerge if research into medicine are funded. The aswer to poverty and ignorance lies in education, research and collaboration.The EU invests 38% of its budget in rural dvelopment , 34% in jobs, and 14% in technology and research. Finally the question is IN or OT depends on your persoanl mindset on insurance . The EU is our insurance against risk , it’s another opportunity to be prosperous, not relying soley on ourselves but using all our strengths.

David OToole said:

Hi, Ashante. There’s nothing very internationalist about erecting trade walls with the rest of the developing world. By coming out of the EU we can be free to trade with developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America who are starting from a lower base but whose growth rates far exceed the stagnant EU. Exit from the EU will mean Britain is free to develop an truly internationalist economy. We will be helping those countries and benefitting from it ourselves. None of this is guaranteed of course, as exit will only give Britain the freedom to act and it will be up to young people like you to make sure it happens. I hope this helps.

Peter Hirst said:

Hi Everyone, I will do my best to answer your questions in no particular order. My own personal view is that we would be a poorer, more isolated country if we left the eu. Certainly it needs improving and to keep out of national issues. However, a huge amount of our social, environmental and product safety legislation is due to being in the eu. Also our ability to trade with the other countries in it with a minimum of forms is to be valued. The leave campaign have failed to show how leaving would benefit us apart from in the short term financially and in terms of eu net migration that is less than half of total movement. We joined initially both as a free trade organisation and as a vision to prevent wars. It has evolved to being a global force for tolerance, liberty, fairness, rule of law and combating poverty, climate change and smuggling.

Simon Usherwood said:

Hi Rene. You ask one of the big questions in the referendum debate. Unlike a general election, we’re not picking a government to run the country for the next five years, but are only making a decision about one thing: whether to stay in the EU or not. As a result, there is a wide range of options open should we leave. How likely these are depends on two key factors. The first is what kind of post-membership deal with agree with the EU. If we want to keep access to the EU’s single market (which is generally popular), then we’d almost certainly have to accept keeping the free movement of people (which is one of the things that is generally unpopular) and we’d not be able to make our own trade deals with the rest of the world. If we wanted a more distant relationship, then we’d have more room for manoeuver , but we’d probably take more of an economic hit on our trade with the EU. The second factor is what government we had. You might expect the David Cameron would have to step down as Prime Minister if he lost the referendum, so does that mean Boris Johnson or Michael Gove taking over, or a general election, where Labout might come to power? Each of these would produce very different priorities or policies. So the short answer is that we don’t know and won’t know for a considerable time after a vote to leave.

Ohwim Nsenieba said:

https://fullfact.org/europe/eus-powers/ hey kids, hoping this site can help with some of your questions

Simon Usherwood said:

Hi Sharif. Judges in the EU are indeed unelected, just as they are unelected here in the UK. Instead, judges in the European Court of Justice are appointed by member states, who hold the power to shape the EU (see my response to Isabel below). Those judges only deal with a limited area of legal activity, namely the interpretation of EU law (which doesn’t cover all the areas of national law). The treaty that gives them this power is one that has been signed and ratified by all member states, which retain the ability to change the treaty and limit the court’s power. However, over the decades they have felt that while they might have to accept rulings that go against their desires, this is outweighed by the legal gains they make, either by making other member states follow jointly-agreed rules or by ensuring that there is a uniform application of EU rules across the Union. Obviously, you tend to hear more about the cases where there’s disagreement, which contributes to the feeling that you talk about of having decisions imposed on you. On this, the discussion in the UK has been like that in other member states, where national courts have accepted that the European Court of Justice can make binding rulings on them, not only so long as the ECJ represents national constitutional principles.

Simon Usherwood said:

HI Isabel. When we talk about political systems being dictatorial, we usually mean that the person or people in control do not have limits on their power, that what they say goes. The EU doesn’t really fit that description. Like the member states that make it up, the EU is bound by and committed to principles of democracy. This can been seen in a number of ways. Firstly, the EU can only do what its members allow it to do: there is a treaty that underpins all of this, which only member states can approve and amend. Secondly, all the EU’s legislation is subject to scrutiny and approval by either representatives of the member states or the directly-elected European Parliament, and usually by both. Thirdly, there is a system of legal control, by national and the European courts, which means if the EU oversteps its powers, then it can be reined back in. At the same time, lots of people don’t feel that they are part of the EU, because it feels very distant and as if someone else is making decisions without your say. While that sense of community is certainly weak, it makes all of the factors I’ve outlined above all the more relevant. The British government (and its predecessors), like those in other countries, have debated and discussed what being part of the EU means, and have approved each successive extension of the EU’s powers, while keeping the power to change that system: thus the EU gets much of its legitimacy from the legitimacy of its member states.

Steve Coltman said:

Alternatives to the EU: for the UK we can, and should leave. There are several fairly well-defined sorts of relationship we could have ranging from the close relationship that Norway has, paying into the EU and accepting the free movement of people to a more distant one where we treat EU countries the same as we would non-EU ones.
As for alternatives to the EU as a whole: the EU is a project, a work-in-progress. The mantra is ‘ever-closer-union’ (without ever specifying exactly how close). So, staying in is more of an uncertainty than leaving. What will the EU become in the years ahead? Some leading figures want a United States of Europe with a single currency for all and a single army even. I believe this is the objective and I believe it is doomed to failure. The EU should recognise that sovereignty must reside with the nation states (Donald Tusk the current EU President has said as much recently) and the EU should have been a Confederation of Nation States. But it isn’t and the Euro-fanatics are determined to push for a US of E.

Richard Wood said:

I watched your questions with great interest.
I built rightandwrong.co.uk to help people find the truth, the whole site is based purely on facts taken from Government and EU sources, I have nothing to gain through my site, it is there only to help you. If you can’t find what you need please contact me through the site and I will respond accordingly.
Good hunting I hope what you see leads you down the right path.
Best Wishes with your endeavours and of course the hopes that you make the right decision.
Richard Wood
http://www.rightandwrong.co.uk

Bess said:

Good question Nathan. I do blame the EU for letting people drown. The idea we even have open borders is such a myth, this is fortress Europe, it fears too many people swallowing up resources and has no imagination of all that could be done. We need to argue for real Freedom of movement everywhere then people wouldn’t get into dodgey boats but could get on planes. We need to get out of the EU though to make this real- the EU is not force for good or a pro-human future.

Trent B said:

This is for Bev, we all benefit from being European and close to European countries, we definitely don’t benefit from the EU as an institution. It is anti-democratic and operates on the basis that we are all untrustworthy citizens who cannot be allowed to decide things for ourselves. I think the EU is in fact anti-European as it treats Europe’s people with such contempt. I think it is perfectly possible to be pro Europe but anti EU in fact I think many of us are. It is possible too to vote BREXIT and argue for the interests of all European citizens – who would all be better off without this institution.

Daniella Iwo said:

The sad emotions i feet of people dying in the sea, whilst crossing over the channels to come here for a better standard of living needs a voice. These issues affect mankind. Britain opting out of EU, lays in the hands of innocent Citizens

Joanne Grentis said:

Hi Ashante
I don’t think the EU stops nationalism, in fact I think the opporsite is true. The EU imposing its rules on countries has created quite a backlash in otherwords the EU has caused a nationalistic response. We need to get out and argue for an internationalist perspective. It can never come from on high or behind closed doors, which is how the EU operates.

Jane said:

On Renée’s question on what would be the alternative to life outside the EU – the answer is we’d all get to decide, and we could change our minds at every election. The UK govt would actually have to come up with a trade policy, an immigration policy, an industrial policy, an agriculture policy and the list goes on…

Gareth said:

Hi Beulah,

You’re absolutely right to say that free movement is important and although the EU guarantees it for all citizens ‘inside’ its borders, it’s only without the EU that we and other European countries could open ourselves up to the world.

Hope that helps