Why Europe Matters
01 December 2015
Each day brings the news of more challenges, whether threats to jobs in the steel industry, dealing with the refugee crisis or protecting people from dangerous extremism. In a constantly changing world, the best way for Britain to meet these challenges is working together with our European partners.
But Britain’s benefits from EU membership are not solely related to security and risk prevention. Since joining the EEC in 1973 we have seen gains across a range of area:
- Rights at work: rights are enshrined in law, ensuring fair employment policies for all EU citizens: to paid holidays, to guaranteed rest periods, to consultation, to protection for part time, temporary and agency workers.
- Rights of women in the workplace: guaranteed maternity rights, equal pay and the right to return to work after maternity leave.
- Rights for minorities: EU wide anti-racism laws and protections in the workplace regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion or disability.
- Jobs: more than 3 million UK jobs are linked to EU membership and access to the world’s largest single market- a huge benefit to UK businesses.
- Regional and university research funding: EU funds have helped transform some of our poorest regions and research capacity in our universities
- Higher environmental standards: cleaner beaches, rivers and air quality and joint policies to tackle climate change.
- Rights for British people to live abroad with ease: over two million are currently doing throughout the EU.
The forthcoming referendum poses some fundamental questions for us all. How will we ensure the sustainability of our shared rights and protections if Britain is isolated in the global community? In business terms, could we compete against the world’s largest market? Would we end up like Norway and Switzerland, removed from the negotiating table, but still having to follow rules set down by EU member states?
In our 42 year history with the European Union we have seen the benefits of enhanced cooperation and partnership. We cannot change our proximity to the rest of the continent and we will always be most influenced by what happens on our doorstep, regardless of our EU membership. We cannot shape European reform and our continent's future if we are looking in from the outside - which is why we are better off in.