Impact on research

There are 31,000 EU citizens in academic research in the UK.  Many universities are reliant on them to fill senior academic and research posts. We need to re-examine the visa system to ensure arbitrary barriers do not prevent more of them coming. Standard May 10, 2017

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The price of leaving

When article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon is triggered the process of leaving the EU will begin. The first matter to resolve is UK’s financial liabilities that could amount to 60 bn euros.  These consist of the UK’s contribution to the 2104-2020 budget, commitments to common policies, future commitments including pension contributions.

The position of the 27 member states on the exact amount to be paid and when has yet to be settled. (FT February 25, 2017)

 

 

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£350 million per week?

There are those who complain that we pay £350 million to Brussels every week, and that we could spend the money better here, especially on more schools and the health service.

In principle, the UK pays to the European budget one per cent of GDP in a full year.  But to see the true picture, we get back over 50 per cent of that amount in the shape of the rebate of £75 million, and what the EU spends in the UK in support of farmers, regional development and university research in particular.

In 2014 the European expenditure in the UK amounted to £175 million per week. That left a net contribution by the UK to the EU budget of £100 million per week.

Outside the EU we would have the freedom in theory to spend the money we pay to Brussels, except for the rebate which would not come back as we would not be paying in, in other ways. Whether we would want to reduce farm support, university research or help for our regions in favour for example of the NHS would be a matter of intense political debate.  And if we wanted at some stage to resume business in Europe we would probably have to make payments to Brussels as Norway does.

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The EU is a group of countries

that have joined together to create a form of European government.

  • It doesn’t replace national governments.
  • It works alongside them.
  • It started in 1957 with the Treaty of Rome.
  • At the heart of the treaty are four freedoms of movement:
  • Of people, capital, goods and services, within the member states.

 

 

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Its main job is

to increase trade among its members and with other countries.

 

 

It also works to:

  • promote peace and democracy within Europe and beyond
  • promote the rights of the individual
  • combat cross border crime
  • protect the environment
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So how does it work?

It has three main institutions that make and enforce its laws:

 

 

  • The Commission that proposes laws
  • The Parliament and
  • the European Council that decide them.
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What it means at home

The water from the tap is safe to drink.

The air about you is safe to breathe.

The medicine you get from the pharmacy is labelled to give contents and expiry date.

The food you buy in the shops is labelled to give contents, including any allergens, and expiry date.

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What it means at work

You have a maximum length of working week before overtime.

You are guaranteed a minimum amount of holiday.

You get a minimum standard of health and safety at the workplace.

You are protected from discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, race, colour, religion or disability.

If you want to work in another member state your qualifications are recognised.

And if you can get a job, you can stay.

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What it means on holiday

If travelling abroad, you get compensation if your train or plane is late or cancelled.

You get compensation if your holiday package is not what you were sold.

There are no mobile charges if travelling in Europe.

And if you like swimming, EU rules have made water in rivers and at the seaside safe to bathe in.

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What it means at university

You can study at a university in the EU on the same conditions and fees as a local student.

If you want to do part of your degree in the EU you can get EU funds to help pay.

UK universities benefit disproportionately from EU research funds to the tune of £1bn per annum.  The government on leaving might distribute the equivalent amount from savings to universities. It might not.

There could be restrictions on the free movement of European students and academics to our universities’ loss.

Cambridge Vice-Chancellor said March 1, 2016 at International Higher Education Forum:

  • EU funding provides about 16% of UK universities’ research budget
  • UK hosts 22%of European Research Council grants
  • 15% of UK university staff are from other member states
  • 200,000 UK students have studied in other member states under Erasmus programme.
  • 125 students from other member states are at UK universities.
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What it all adds up to

Clean and safe at home

Decent working conditions

Fair terms abroad: on holiday, at work, studying

This is a really good package

Why would you want to give it up?

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Financial fraud? Not what it seems

Certainly there is fraud, but not the way the papers report it.

The European Court of Auditors, whose members include a distinguished British accountant, does an annual check on payments by the European Commission.

The error rate is low.

In 2011 on a budget of 116 billion euros (£100 billion) the error rate was under four per cent.

Virtually all errors are found in the member states were 80 per cent of payments are made.

On payments made in Brussels eg on internal administration, in 2011 there was ‘no material error.’

So what happens with ‘errors’ ?
Click to go on

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Financial fraud? Errors more often

Errors are not the same as fraud.

Mostly they are in the recording and documentation.

Follow up action is taken.

When the Court of Auditors found problems in the recording of payments made in the regions of England, the European Commission stopped further payments and fined those responsible.

To get this into perspective.

In 2012/2013 fraud and error in the UK government’s Department of Work and Pensions amounted to £1.2 billion, a rate of 0.7 per cent.

The National Audit Office has qualified the department’s accounts every year for the last 20 years.

So how do we keep in touch with what’s going on?
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Some people say: EU is not democratic

Some people say:

  • The European Commission makes the laws but none of the Commissioners is elected.
  • Most of our laws are made in Brussels and we have little say in them.
  • EU laws take precedence over national laws the European Court of Justice decides in the case of dispute.
  • Brussels makes lots of stupid laws such as whether Women’s Institutes can re-use jam jars.

Not quite. Let’s check the facts.

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Some people say: the EU is not accountable

Not the case at all.  These are the facts:

It’s the European Commission that drafts the laws.

It’s the European Parliament and European Council that make the laws.

The European Commission is headed up by Commissioners nominated by member states.

Their appointment is approved by the Parliament to whom they are accountable.

The Parliament is made up of directly elected representatives from all the member states.

The Council is made up of elected government ministers from the member states.

British ministers and MEPs have a say in every stage of the legislative process and are directly accountable to the British people.

 

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Some people say: Brussels makes the laws

British ministers and MEPs have a say in every stage of the legislative process and are directly accountable to the British people.

It’s up to individual member states to work with other like-minded members to get laws they favour.

In some cases there is a national veto.

As to the number of laws made in Brussels what matters is that 98 per cent of tax payer’s money is spent by national and local government.  The House of Commons Library shows that from 1997 to 2009, just 6.8 per cent of primary legislation and 14.1 per cent of secondary came from Europe.

Big ticket items such as education, health, defence, taxation, welfare benefits, transport and the supreme decision of going to war are outside the remit of the EU.

As for a loss of sovereignty, sharing sovereignty in a globalised world in exchange for influence is a fact of life. Think of our membership of NATO, the UN or the IMF.

All trade deals have an impact on sovereignty.  ‘Getting sovereignty back’ by leaving the EU, we would have to surrender it again in each new trade deal.

As for the jam jar story, complete myth!

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