Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

UKIP’s “Britain paying the EU £40 million a day” claim vs the REAL costs of UK EU membership

This has been on various UKIP election leaflets, so it’s evidently a claim they’re proud of – but does it stand up?

Simple maths tells us that Britain paying £40 million a day to the EU would mean an annual contribution of £14.6 billion. However, the most recent Treasury Report on the UK’s EU budget contributions (PDF) shows the following GROSS figures:

2005 – £12.5 billion
2006 – £12.4 billion
2007 – £12.5 billion
2008 – £13.7 billion (estimated)

£13.7 billion divided by 365 = £37.5 million, so UKIP are, at the very least, rounding up by £2.5 million a day. Not much to round up by? That works out as £912,500,000 a year – I hope UKIP won’t be that out with their sums if they ever get near power…

But what about the rebate? What about the EU funds that are paid back to the UK in the form of things like the European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund and the like? What’s the NET contribution? (Again from the most recent Treasury report)

2005 – £3.6 billion
2006 – £3.9 billion
2007 – £4.6 billion
2008 – £3.6 billion (estimate)

UKIP deliberately using gross rather than net to make the situation seem worse is to be expected, of course, but still – let’s be generous and take the highest figure of £4.6 billion – that’s still a lot of money, right? It may only work out as £12.6 million a day, but that’s still a lot of money.

Well, yes. But big figures are nothing without context, so let’s see how much the UK government spends on other things:UK government expenditure breakdown, shamelessly leeched from Wikipedia

Would you look at that? The UK may be forking out a net figure of around £4 billion a year for EU membership, but at the same time we’re having to pay £31 billion a year merely to service the INTEREST on our debt. That’s not *pay off* our debt – just keep up with the interest. Christ!

In other words, the EU costs us 7.75 times LESS than it does to keep the international bailiffs from the door. (And that £31 billion was BEFORE the most recent round of government borrowing, and before the collapse of sterling, both of which will have hugely escalated the figure for this year, as and when it’s released.)

So, £31 billion in interest payments, for which we see no return whatsoever, versus £4 billion in payments to the EU, from which even its harshest critics must admit that we get *some* benefits – even if they will only admit to cheaper mobile phone charges or ease of travel. I don’t know about you, but I’d say that’s not too bad a deal, in comparison.

Update, October 2010:

If you’re interested in this post, you may also be interested in:

What are the economic costs of the EU?
What percentage of laws come from the EU?
Why legislating and regulating at EU level is almost always a good thing
The dishonesty of the EU debate


  1. Robin, On general matters, Britain’s ‘splendid isolation’ was not a policy – in fact was opposed by then-PM, Lord Salisbury, but, as MatGb accurately guessed, a comment from the sidelines by a Canadian with a (then-more-important-than-now) British Empire prejudice.
    Re yours of 2 June. Your sympathy for my 1980s situation is irrelevant. It was what it was. But it was so (partly) because of Ms T’s policies. As for making people go elsewhere and to other countries: modern Australia was founded on that very basis; colonialism in general, so. Norman Tebbitt specifically told (often unemployed, unable to AFFORD a bike) to ‘get on your bike’ (as his father but not he, had done); and I DID. After 2 years of unsuccessful job applications (with 3 million on the dole, not surprising) I moved from Glasgow to Manchester. But then (a) a free (apart from travel-costs) one-month multinational course in Germany, courtesy of the German Govt., lifted my morale and facilitated further work, mostly in Europe; and even here, working with Europeans. It also has to be said that witnessing the brutal putting down of the miners, and the Sunday a.m. Thatcher Govt. invasion of BBC Scotland made me fearful we were heading for a fascist state. Working in the EU was an escape. Much as people left Germany in the 30s….But I came back.

  2. Hunter,

    I reached my views about the EU from experience of it.(Glad you have a sense of humour , I was getting worried about EUrophiles ).The bit about charging of trucks is only the half of it.I must point out that I didn`t want to be EUrosceptic, because it affects us all and we pay for it, but after a time that was the only position to draw,unless we could be persuaded otherwise. Unfortunately that has never been the case.
    The British government may waste money, but that is not a reason for us to waste more by giving it to the EU.That`s if it is a waste, can you persuade us otherwise ?
    We may not be in the Schengen Agreement but there is the Free Movement Of People pillar of the EU. I know that that means Brits are allowed to live and work in other EU countries, but that`s not a fair trade off for us. It`s not like a million Poles come here and a million Brits go to Poland. Maybe a million Brits go to Spain, but that should be an issue for the Spaniards, not as it is now.
    So yes Brits can and do become migrant workers, but on my side we dont buy the You Must Have Migrant Workers Because Some Brits Live In ….(name any country).
    Pleas can you tell us concrete examples of any benefits of the EU to the average Joe. We get vague Glittering Generalities but not usually anything specific. You have just mentioned two which look good. Now are they able to balance out all the drawbacks ?
    As for trusting of the EU and UK institions, I tend to trust neither, although individuals may be deserving of trust (I know one good EU functionary and the LibDims seem less venal than the other two parties lately ).
    As for Ad homine attacks I just return what is directed at me, as you will see below.

    Frederick Robinson,

    I`m just a lorry driver with an IQ of 80, no qualifications but still prove that when pompous EUrophiles are bested they get even more obnoxious.
    That speaks volumes about you and Mat GBH.

  3. Robin,

    More than happy to, though of course the EU manages to veil its actions quite well. Firstly, however, it was 1.5 million Poles, and over 1 million of them have since returned home; Britain did have a gaping hole in the service sector at the time, one which was not adequately filled by Brits. The UK’s migration policy is far more stringent than any other EU member state’s and, as such, responsibility for these migrant workers lies with the Government, not the EU. On top of this, it may seem strange but several European cities are quite tolerant of English speakers, it is easier for a Brit (who doesn’t speak anything other than English) to get a job anywhere in Europe, while finding a job for a Spaniard in Germany is not going to be so easy. If anything, the Brits stand to benefit most from EU membership, as English is widely spoken and so useful in international circles that, like some kind of playground craze, every company should have a Brit!

    As for concrete examples, there are litteraly millions, I would imagine. Objective 1 is a great starting point to see what the EU has done for the UK, and I can tell you there are a fair number of initiatives under this. There are a series of transport initiatives, some underway for over a decade now, that try to maintain transport links between remote UK islands and the mainland, often in Scotland. A newer initiative in the same vein can be found here:

    The EU has and still does support social, political, economical and business activities across the UK. One way in which it has tried to support new businesses is through the “Eurostars” programme, one that was sadly mismanaged (by the private sector), but it was in essence a programme that would support, given the right justification, a business to establish itself and get on its feet. Then of course you have the European Patent Office; now that it is a pan-European organisation, British inventors and innovators can safely secure the intellectual property rights on their ideas without having to worry about it being manufactured in another European country for cheaper, while the inventor struggles to muster the funds to fight them in the courts. British innovators are now protected by EU wide legislation that stops any other European country or company from ripping his/her idea off. Then you have consumer laws, the risible “no bendy cucumbers” please lark. This has been mocked viciously, but I can assure you that this ensure standards of produce that we now take for granted. Hell only five years ago, you bought five peaches in Hungary, two were rotten, two were flavourless and the last, thankfully and redeemingly, was the best damn peach you ever tasted. Anyhow, the point is that it is EU legislation that ensures that your average Robin or Hunter gets a high standard of fruit, veg and meat wherever he goes, as long as the legislation is being enforced. Okay no bendy cucumbers or phallus shaped apples, but a very consistent and high level of quality accross the board. Then you have the environment, public transport, alternative energy sources, the space programmes, trade agreements.

    Fair enough, bad things happen, but they do so as much under national leadership (well, more so) than under EC policy making. No governance institution is perfect, but the EU has done a pretty damn good job, its civil service is a fraction of the size of any other European civil service (hell it has fewer employees than the British government laid off last year) and it appears to be far more proactive and productive than most, though this is of course subjective speculation on my part.
    The EU will of course cost money, because (like the British government) it spends a significant amount on external, non-EU aid, which only indirectly affects our quality of life. However, coupled with the benefits it achieves at home, and the development assistance it provides to the third world, I find it hard to believe the EU is such a bad thing. However, I’ll leave that to you to prove!

  4. First of all, Bravo, Hunter, for a wide-ranging, informative, argument in favour of the EU! Then,
    You (as usual) don’t specify which (presumably this)’pompous Europhile’ you mean and in what way he/she/they is/are ‘more obnoxious’; but perhaps you mean (since you cite ‘ad hominem’) my commenting on ‘your mouldering morass of disinformation’. You’re as entitled to react ‘ad hominem’ to my remark, as I am entitled to MAKE my remark in reaction to (a) masses of vague, unspecified anti-EU criticism on your part, almost impossiblE to argue with because, as far as one could see, blankly prejudiced and emotional. If (hypothetically) I expressed aversion to HGV’s, for example, you – I assume, as a lorry-driver, pro HGV’s – might want me to explain why. My problem would be that beyond their effect on me subjectively (noise, smell, etc.) I couldn’t, without research, give objective arguments: I don’t know enough about it/them. I might say they cause building-vibration, block motorways; you could argue that’s to do with roads, not HGVs, and anyway how would I expect goods to be transported economically across large areas? There’s something to argue ABOUT. You have, after HUNDREDS of words, finally told us what ‘your industry’ IS, and it is possible more easily to understand (even sympathise, agree with)your POINT OF VIEW. (I gave personal information for the same reason). I also made a general criticism of this ‘glutinous blog’, on much the same grounds. Re both of these, a confession: before my short, vitriolic contributions mentioned above, (a) I had found my Inbox crammed with ‘EUtopia’ emails (b) my laptop/ISP or whatever started playing silly buggers, meaning I spent a long time being unable to access/read/repond to said emails; at which point with maximum frustration and minimum time available, I vented my anger on what seemed the fault of the prolix, meandering blog. But may have been more technologically-based. I apologise for losing my temper. Though there may be parallels within the blog….

  5. Hunter,

    Firstly thankyou for actually trying to put the case for the EU rather than the usual Glittering Generalities. Unfortunately I will have to rain on your parade as I look at your post.
    Please also keep in mind that I am against Britian`s membership of this project, more than the project itself (although I dont think it will last ).
    First off the mark; because of the UKs lax accounting rules about immigration/emmigration it`s hard to get the true influx figure. For example if a Ploe comes into the UK he is first classified as an immigrant. If he leaves to go home for a short stay he is classed as an emmigrant. If he returns, he is classed as a returning, not an immigrant.Thus you can see a discrepancy there.
    Britain had a gaping hole of labour in the sevice sector you say. Part of that problem is low wages and for some, a generous welfare state. Instead of facing up to this issue, the government imported labour and thought problem solved.
    The UKs immigration policy might be OFFICIALY more stringent than others (it`s not more stringent than the western European countries) but in practise it is lax.It`s policies and administration are affected by our membership of the EU, once again not for the better.This is exemplified by the fact that Eastern Europeans, including Romanians and Bulgarians, can be classed as “locals” in the building of the Olympic Village.
    European cities are tolerant of English speakers, it being the main international language.To me this is a weakness to us, as very many people and businesses arrogantly assume tenders and packaging can be done in just English.
    You mention transport initiatives. Dont forget I am an Ex TIR driver.As such the initiatives will probably be of no use to us. A new customs building between Austria and Hungary, for example, will not be used by a Brit now.
    If the EU supports social, political (!?!)economical and business activities across the UK it is with our money and is nothing that we could do ourselves, if we wish. So the EUrostars project is unneccessary for us.
    The EUropean Patent Office is quite interesting, but have you ever applied for a patent ? The EU one is between the British one and the World Patent. If you ever manage to get the EU one, you still have to go to the court of the land in whatever EU country your patent has been infringed. Eg; if it is copied in Finland you must get a court case there,which doesn`t deter a Slovakian company infringing there.
    Consumer laws can still be made country to country and the increase in quality in Hungarian shopping is due to them leaving the Warsaw Pact and freeing their markets than the EU.
    Enviroment policy is something the EU and its supporters pushe because they hope to get supranational decisions,public transport is very poor in the UK so I cant see why you see that as an EU plus point,alternative energy is another moot point, the space agreement may or may not be a good point and trade agreements ? hardly done in the UKs favour.
    Bad things happen under national leadership, but why compound it with being in the EU ?
    The EU`s civil service may be smaller than the UK`s or even Yorkshires, but they give directives to the UK`s (or Yorkshires) to implement, not the other way round.It may be proactive (what does that mean here)and productive but shoulsn`t they be that anyway ?
    That was a good post ,Hunter, but did not prove that Britian should be in this project. Nevertheless, you may prove it in the future or at least negate the drawbacks of our membership. Good luck.

    Frederick Robinson,

    Sorry to hear about your computer glitch, and apologies for coupling you to the failed history teacher, Mat GBH. Was it somehow caused by my computer.? Please let me know so that I can bring an expert in.

  6. I’ll try and respond on a point by point basis.

    1. Britain’s membership – I’ll keep it short. Norway pay extortionate sums of money to maintain trade links with Europe; Britain will pay far more, mostly due to its larger population. Withdrawing in itself will be crippingly expensive, and you will find that it will still be necessary to meet the EU “acquis communautaire” and maintain European standards and meet European legislation in order to trade with EU member states, all without actually having a say in what goes on (not a great deal).

    2. The EU is not responsible for the UK’s failings in terms of immigration and emmigration and, as such, cannot form part of your rebuff to my comments. Irregardless of this, British government statistics show that 2/3rds of the 1.5 million Polish immigrants that arrived in the UK since EU accession have returned home, most of them after contributing to the economy and, as such, represent a benefit, and not a drawback. Importing labour may not be a solution to the fact that so many “indigenous Britons” feel the need to sponge off the British benefits (and I mean the lazy, not the unfortunate) systems. Again, not the fault of the EU, if anything something that is partially resolved by the EU.

    3. It is more stringent than other Western European countries, I can look like a hobo and cross any Western Europe border without molestation, whereas the UK still has border controls (hell I was arrested by Her Majesty’s Counter Terrorist Unit last time I was in Heathrow because I looked too suspicious and have a problem with stripping in public). The Schengen agreement involves the free movement of people (which might in turn exacerbate Britain’s problem, but only because Britain refuses to play ball with the EU); Britain is not a signatory. As such, Britain’s policies and adminstration are not affected by the EU’s policies (other than the fact that the UK border control will, of course, have to stop more people crossing the border). Tenders and packaging may be completed, as noted under the Practical Guide to Contract Procedures for EC external actions ( of the European Commission (page 17), in any official European language (including Gaelic and a few other odd ones).

    4. I think you meant European Village, and they are, as member states of the European Union, entitled to representation, that is, after all, the essence of democracy. Britain’s best interest might be represented if the British people ceased repetitvely electing individuals whose agenda is to sabotage Europe to the European Parliament, it’s like having anarchists in the Houses of Parliament, or a Satanist as the Archbishop of Canterbury; a veritable oxymoron.

    5. As an ex-TIR driver, the initiatives might not be of use to you, but it is just one example. If you were an ex-TIR driver who lived on a remote Scottish island, you would be very grateful for those initiatives; the are the sole form of transport these people have to the mainland (and, as such, they have saved lives). They are designed to help those who need help, not those who don’t, and you have benefitted through EU wide initiatives on healthcare, medicine, food, consumer protection rights and human rights, so it is not as if nothing is being done for you. A new customs building between Austria and Hungary would not be created, as they are both EU member states.

    6. Political (!?!) – The EU is a strong advocate of civil society and non state actors, who they see as vital to the creation and maintenance of a healthy democracy. These will be of vital importance under the 10th EDF, and have been of significant importance under the 9th, where the EU provided a vast amount of support to African organisations. European NGOs and civil society organisations receive funding for their initiatives, which range from political campaign, consulting and development (Generation Europe’s “Europa” school diaries are a pro-EU example, and I must remind you that, in the spirit of Democracy, UKIP was constructed predominantly from EU money). You may find the Eurostars initiative unnecessary, but I can assure you new and small business would be more than happy to receive funding, whether British or not. It may be unnecessary, but it still serves a purpose, one that is wholly beneficial to the private sector development of the UK.

    7. EPO (European Patent Office) – No, I have never applied for a patent, nor do I intend to, but I can wholly support the initiative. Again, businesses seeking to develop an idea, need to protect it, and the EPO is developing into an entity which will not only ensure that Europe operates and similar if not the same legislation, but will ensure the safety of business ideas. That is, if a British company develops hoverpants (underwear that can make the user levitate), the Poles can’t just snap it up and develop it at one tenth of the cost due to their lower wages. It is increasingly protecting the interests of European citizens and, in this case, British business. 60 years ago, if it was developed in Finland, but conceived in England, an English business would not stand a snowman’s chance in hell, so here the EPO represents progress.

    8. Consumer law can, of course, be made from country to country. However, you may find the French would decide that meat destined for export to the UK could be kept at a frosty 35°C, thus ensuring it was putrid by the time it reached us. These EU wide standards ensure not only that we give good quality produce, but that we recieve it. As you can see by the failings revealed here: the UK is not always able to maintain a proper degree of cleanliness (though I admit the source is somewhat dated). Anyhow, what is so wrong about communicating with our neighbours to ensure we can all harmonise our standards and legislation, thus making trade easier; French cheeses, Spanish wines, German sausages and Belgian beer can all be sold with the stamp of good quality. It is one of the reasons why, today, and not 30 years ago, you are able to pick up Stella, Leffe or Duvel in almost any decent supermarket.

    9. With Russia controlling up to 75% of our oil and gas, I think you may find energy is less of a moot point than you may believe; we will, as supplies start to dwindle and Russia turns the heat up, so to speak, find that we become the toy soldiers of others. Energy is the single most important issue that we have to face, and again I can see points being raised about gas supplies being given to Europe, well it just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid. Again, Europe’s best chance stands at unity, pooling our resources to develop alternate sources of energy in each nation. Would Britain have developed the level of renewable energy without the European fora providing their resources and research for evaluation of the sector, and without providing dialogue on the suggestions, I can certainly tell you that they have been of use. Initiatives such as the Fusion reactor under CERN, which may guarantee us an efficient and cheap source of energy for a significant amount of time, would not have been available to us today without the EU. As you can see here: Britain’s renewable energy research is driven by the need to meet the EU’s target by 2020; which I can assure you is in every European’s best interest.

    10. The EU is an opportunity for the Member States of Europe to develop the continent of Europe, and ensure that our lifestlyes, culture, economies and ideologies can survive. United, Europe is the world’s largest economy (by a hair), divided, we are on the border of Russia, a world superpower (on whom we rely for a large amount of our energy), and are bordered by relatively unstable states, or alien ideologies, to the South and East. The UK is no longer the British Empire, but a small island off the West Coast of a series of small countries. Without the European Union, there is nothing to stop others determining our future through the enjeux and games played by the international superpowers (of which Brazil, India and China are now members). The European Union is every European country’s best chance not only at a decent lifestyle, but at determining our own future, our own democracy, our rights and regulations, our ideologies and, ultimately, our survival. It is not a case of whether Britain should or should not be in this project (judging by the immature election of 2 BNP and, I believe, 16 UKIP members, who will not represent our best interest within, and I stress within, the European Parliament, perhaps it shouldn’t), but it is a case of what Britain wants. The EU offers the opportunity to move forward, to develop the democratic principles by which we live, to hone and perfect them and, through dialogue, to ensure that every nation in Europe can evolve, instead of devolve.

    If you are going to persuade me that the EU is detrimental to the development and/or interests of the UK, you’ll have to try harder. I do like my Glittering Generalities, they make things far easier to explain however, as Hunter S. Thompsson once said, if you’re going to call someone a pig violator (and I cleaned that up) you better be able to produce the pig (and I always keep one to hand). As such, in the warped words of Jerry Maguire “Show me the Pig!”.

    I look forward to your post.

    Best Regards…

  7. Bravo, Hunter, yet again! Another convincingly and cogently argued posting – although (syntax and/or typing) I was a little puzzled by your point 5. Bravo, nevertheless! It occurs to me, too, though not a drinker of alcohol, myself, that wine (especially from France) seems to have become a good deal cheaper and more-widely accessible than of yore. I do eat, though, and remember clearly the 1950s when spaghetti, for example, seemed a rare and exotic dish.

  8. Point 5 was a reference to a point I made earlier to Robin on transport initiatives; that similar initiatives in Scotland were established to ensure locals had transport to the mainland (previous modes had proven to be unsustainable, so they are now running at a cost covered by the EU). Of course only a minority benefit, but they really do significantly benefit. In essence, it cannot be said that every EU initiative helps every EU citizen; many only help those whose needs have not or cannot be otherwise met through local, community of government intervention. This was followed by a reassurance that all EU citizens have benefited, in some way, from EC policy or EC financed initiatives, that the EU has, in fact, positively impacted everyone’s life in some way, be it hygiene standards, food quality or medicines regulation, competition, consumer rights or pricing. Happy to hear that you eat! (and spaghetti is fantastic, as you can see –

  9. Hunter,

    I must commend you as you are as you at least debate the merits of the EU. I am almost cnvinced ! No not really it`s been too long but here`s the reply.

    1; Short as well.Basically, we dont pay (that is, if we were outside ). Why should we?We could meet any trading conditions to do business with any EU country as we have to to do business with a country outside the EU. We will meet Aquis Communitaire when needed to trade and not in the rest of our lives. pulling out will have a cost, but not as much as staying in, and at some stage we will have to pull out.

    2;The EU is very much at the heart of the UK immigration policy – Free Movement Of People remember. Why did we not have such an influx of Eastern EUropeans before? As mentioned, dont rely on UK immgration statistics entirely until they do them properly.
    Why were/are the influx of Eastern EUropeans a benefit ?Because some of them paid taxes (and many did not )?. At the most that only means they paid taxes that the workers they replaced did not .
    If they are/were of such benefit how did we get on without them before, why did the government not worry when it said “only” 13000 would come here (when you imply we need 1.5 million odd ) and is it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing that 2/3 are returning ?

    3; Our policies are affected, even if the UK government and Immigration Service are being sly about it. Why are so many Romanians and Bulgarians working here when the Government said they will have no access to the labour market ? Why are Eastern Bloc workers given NI numbers ?
    As regards packaging that is best left to companies to initiate, and controls would have to be mat to tarade with any country, inor out of the EU.

    4; I`m not following where this comes in. Except in reply to your point at 9.34 if you dont beleive in the Houses of Parliament or want to be in the Church of England then you can only fight it, not cooperate with its aims and objectives.

    5;If I lived on a remote Scottish island and it needed any initiatives I would expect the government to which I elect representatives and takes my taxes to meet these needs. So no EU needed there. I do not benefit from EU healthcare,medicine food etc because I dont go to the EU thanks to my industry being destroyed mainly by the EU. When I did live in Europe I had insurance, and when my human rights were violated the MEP was useless.
    Lets move the customs building (as the EU expands then) to the Polish?Ukranian border. No Btitish trucks noe going through, waste of our taxes.

    6;What are state actors ? The EU pays pressure groups to pressure it to counteract lobby groups who pressure it.
    We can donate directly to African countries either by our own government or through charity, UKIP wouldn`t be needed if we were not in the EU (and the pro EU groups would not recieve anything ) EUrostars is not needed in a properly functioning market, and id it were we could organise it ourselves,no need to send money to the EU for it to take a slice and intervene in the marketplace.

    7;The EPO may be handy. There, Ive given a thumbs up to an EU thing. But gaining a patent is a very complicated, long, expensive and of dubious merit (copyright may be better ).Please do not think that if you have a patent that is the end of your troubles. The Polish factory can still produce your underwear even if not legally, and certianly can legally for the first four years while your patent is considered. After that, you can expensively take them to court, and recieve royalties for the years they have stolen your idea. IF they are still a business entity.

    8;The French could send meat to the UK at the wrong temperature, if they want the RDC (regional Distribution Centre) of the supermarket to reject it.(I`ve taken meat from France to the UK, had it rejected,after only one box was opened,because the meat stuck to the packaging and returned with it to France. I`ve delivered to France with the temp gauge of a trailer inaccurate and it wasaccepted but marked on the CMR as above +6.The point is, commercial concerns overide and dont need the EU ).
    We should harmonise certian trade standards, but we have the ISO for that, so again no need for us to be in the EU. You can also pick up Stella,(I have by the trailer load )Leffe and Duvel, as well as other products, in non EU countries.

    9;Russia supllies more to other EU countries and our stocks are low because the government does not have a coherent energy policy. Possibly the EU may be of limited benefit, but again only because of the laziness of our administration, very often caused by our being in the EU. Our renewable energy targets are not needed to be set by the EU any more than America or Angola.

    I dont want to be any more tied to other Europeans than I do to any other continent or race. Why Europe ? I`m sorry but this is where I see the latent racism of EUrophiles coming to the fore.
    We share just as much or little of our culture ,lifestyles,economies and ideologies with other people of the world than we do with Europeans. In fact we have more in common with an American than a Romanian.
    I`m not bothered about being a superpower or world power and am fully aware that the Empire is a fraction of what it was. I dont want to “influence” other countries and dont know why any feels the need to.
    Why are you demeeaning the electorate because of what they vote ? if you dont like it then a proper debate should put more ticks in what you hope are the right boxes.What about the other countries who vote for parties you disaprove of ?
    If you are going to persuade me the EU is not detrimental to the development and/or interests of the UK then you and all the other EUrophiles will have to try harder. Or even begin to try. I`ve even tried to help EUrophiles to put their case, the Glittering Generalities are eventually no help to you because once they are seen through, you have too much uphill work to regain trust.
    At least you make the effort.

    Kind regards

    Frederick Robinson,

    What.No Bravo Robin ?!

  10. Robin,

    1. We do pay, however you want to look at it. You can either look at the direct costs (without benefits) of needing to adhere to and implement the European trading standards, competition standards and quality standards, without having any say in how they are developed, or the indirect costs, which would be a loss of business due to the fact that it would be simpler for a lot of countries to just do business with other EU countries, and that Brits would have a far harder time setting up abroad. The UK’s inability to play ball with Europe has already cost it enough, and pulling out will cost more, I can assure you our European neighbours would not make it easy. Besides, if the UK then changed its mind, realising what a mistake it had made, well not only would it look a bit ridiculous, but I can assure you the cost would, again, be higher. Sure, we might not be paying €12 million a day for membership, but then we don’t get any of the benefits; hell that’s like paying a £200 subscription per year and person to be part of a structure that works solely for the best interests of its members.

    2. The EU would have something to do with it, except you forget that the UK does not subscribe to Schengen and the EU border control laws. As such, the Free Movement of People is irrelevant, it is not a policy Britain subscribes to. Britain has closed borders, I reiterate, no undesired entry, no Free Movement of People, no Schengen, no visa no entry, etc. We chose not to do it, and we haven’t. I did not imply, I stated; sources have placed Polish immigration figures at between 1.5 million in Western Europe, to 1.5 million to the UK alone. Either way, some 500,000, according to the Federation of Poles ( will remain. We have had such influxes before, 1939 being a great example. The reason we didn’t have this influx before now is because there was a damn great wall lying smack across Europe until 1990. If the Poles can make a living, pay taxes and send money home, why can’t the Brits? The 2006-2007 Economic Report on the Fiscal Impact of Immigration (available here: showed that the UK had a deficit, at the time, of 300,000 jobs, and that immigrants bring in roughly £6 billion a year to the UK economy.

    3. They can’t be affected because we do not subscribe to the EU’s border control policy. As mentioned, they are working here because they have just escaped 50 odd years of communism, and we have jobs to spare. Why wouldn’t they be given NI numbers? I’ve been given them when I work abroad.

    4. This was a rebuttal to your note on the “Olympic Village”, which I have never heard of. I assumed you meant EU Village, and simply made the point that they would be considered as local as any other member state citizen.

    5. Well that, my good man, is exactly what happened. We paid our taxes to an EU government, it listened to its constituents and took some action. So yeah, EU needed, it works like the British government, only it picks up the slack where the Brits fall down, do you see the beauty of it? If the British government was your dad, the EU would be there to tell your dad to STFU when he got a bit lairy. Well you’re in the EU, so you don’t really need to go there. However industry standards on pharmaceuticals, machinery, food and clothes work in our interests, not against them, and ensure that even our healthcare is up to scratch, if we play ball. Which we don’t. The border and customs need to be around Europe, not in Europe, due to the whole free movement of goods and people. I have difficulty understanding how the EU cost your job. The free movement of goods means, if anything, your job would be even more necessary; point in fact is that small roads in Cornwall are now blocked by large freighters (St. John, Torpoint for example) because they now have large amounts of goods going to totally unsuited areas.

    6. A state actor is an entity that acts on behalf of a government or state authority. A non state actor is one that acts on its own agenda. The EU is pressing for increased civil society and non state actor engagement in politics because it is a far more transparent governance system; if the EU is under scrutiny all of the time, it has no choice but to be squeaky clean. We can of course donate to Africa through charity or our own government. However, the European Union has enabled Europeans to coordinate their development efforts, ensuring both that development work is not doubled and that it has a purpose, like Cotonou, that principles can be established for donor cooperation, notably under the Paris Declaration, which has and still is harmonising donor activities, while making them more accountable and transparent, and ensure, lastly, that we learn the lessons of our mistakes; Transmigration IV, a World Bank funded project from the 70s and 80s would be a great case in point.

    7. Gaining a patent under the EPO couldn’t be simpler. Certainly simpler than taking out 27 different patents, you can do it online and while it does cost money, it always has cost money. The Polish factory can produce it, but if they are in breach of patent laws, then you’ll win the court case. Of course what you say may be true, but then we are better off today than we were sixty years ago.

    8. It was a poor point to be sure. Either way, commercial concerns don’t need the EU. They benefit from the EU. The EU works in favour of commerce to ensure fair competition, decent standards and free movement of goods, facilitating trade and bring down the costs, thus making European nations stronger on the international market. Instead of fighting market wars with ourselves, we can fight them with non-EU states. Strength through unity and all that jazz. You can of course get this stuff outside the EU, though Norway and Switzerland are the only two I could think of, maybe somewhere in the US/Canada. If you find others, please feel free to elaborate. Again, the EU has enabled the UK to have a ready stock of these, it is so cheap and easy to shift goods around that we do now have these beers, almost everywhere; it was certain not this good a decade ago.

    9. Russia supplies 75% of the EU’s energy, the UK while less reliant, still needs Russian energy supplies. I don’t even need to provide you with sources demonstrating Russian intent as regards energy and I can assure you, were war to become a viable notion, would Europe turn on Russia, or the UK? The energy research undertaken by the EU, notably in the fields of nuclear fusion and renewable energies (some of which have already been implemented in the UK) is invaluable, and may have already done more than we can imagine. The EU, again, works to facilitate cooperation with Europeans, not dictate policy, using the examples of America and Angola is counterproductive to your arguments; the EU is setting targets, basically they’re saying “if you want to live to see 2030, I’d advise doing this by 2020”. I would rather have our targets set by the EU than our prices set by Russia; again it really is in our interests to play ball.

    10. Why Europe? Because Europeans have belived for almost two centuries now that they are the centre of the universe. Truth is we are tiny, we are weak, we are surrounded by alien cultures, hostile profiteers and world powers who seek little but to use us as pawns in their game; Britain learned this when it cut ties with the EU and built them with the US. What happened? We were used. Europe is the last, best hope that Europeans have of preserving our ways of life, even if we have to make sacrifices. You can stand alone in the world, and shun off community, but the minute you break both your legs you’ll wish to God you were in that community, becuase you can’t survive alone.

    The European Union, in a wild west setting, is the troop of pioneers heading west to start a new life and, attacked by injuns, they pull their wagons into a circle and fire out, praying either the Seventh cavalry show, or that somehow they can drive the injuns back into the hills. It’s survival, pure and simple.

    Lastly, as regards Glittering Generalities, I note that your arguments have a deficit of evidence, I’m not pointing the finger or anything but I have yet to see you produce a pig…


  11. Robin, How can I say bravo to you when (from my point of view) your arguments are almost all negative, i.e. anti-EU? Good EU-contact has been (I’m 69; how old are you?) necessary to me as a linguist, language-teacher, tour-guide, translator, interpreter. Without the EU, I may well have been unemployed since 1980. You wrote of ‘destruction of your industry’; but then as (you tell us) a lorry-driver, you were/are as capable as being independent within that ‘industry’ as I was in mine. Had that ‘industry’ been one like mining, shipbuilding, or manufacturing (factories), for example, you could well have found yourself devastated (along with many, many more) by the actions, not of the EU, but the UK Government under Mrs T. But as a driver, you were capable of independence. In fact the first coach-driver I had as a European tour-guide in 1984 was a Dutchman who had, himself, been a lorry-driver. So I don’t understand why YOU PERSONALLY, if not out of ideology, are against the EU. Polish workers being here (mostly temporarily) was not much different from my (for example) working/studying/living in Spain, France, Germany (and as a tour-guide, also Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg) at a time when the UK seemed to have little to offer (and what it had mostly originating outside the UK). I am now mainly retired, but even now I teach English as a Foreign Language occasionally. So, much as I respect your right to express your opinion, it is difficult for me to applaud it….

  12. Frederick Robinson,

    Really I dont expect plaudits from you or any other EUrophile (but abuse doesn`t help any understanding ) because we are on different sides. My arguments will be negative because that is my experience of the EU, as you are negative about Mrs Thatcher because of your experience.You feel the EU has helped you personnally so it`s understandable you are a EUrophile.
    I was “independent ” wthin the trucking industry but independent or not, if the trading conditions are stacked against you, by your own side as well, the industry will not survive.So it is devastated.And there is no good reason for it (it`s not overmanned,inefficient,greedy, lazy or backward ).
    Because the senior civil service make a large part of their excuse for their maladministration on the EU, we take a look at the EU. So my opposition moves from personal reasons to reasons of principle. The principle being, aside from my experience, is the EU good for Britian as a whole ? And apart from a very few exceptionable cases, the answer is NO.
    I did not set out to be anti EU. I even came to this blog to test if I should be against this project.
    (BTW wouldn`t you have been employed as a linguist/teacher,translator and tour guide if we were not part of the EU ?).

  13. Robin, On personal grounds, I am not especially anti Mrs Thatcher. In fact I mentioned earlier that her suggestion not to think of yourself as ‘unemployed’, but as a one-man business seeking custom, helped me a lot psychologically. On the other hand, her policies made finding work/customers very difficult in the UK – as I said, I spent 1980-83 virtually without work/’customers’, along with millions more, while the bankers and financial sectors which have got us in our current mess THRIVED – they were virtually her baby (remember ‘Loadsamoney!’?). In one way she was no more responsible than Blair/Brown (Iraq war notwithstanding) are responsible for the current situation; but she did create the ‘me’ society.
    In fact one thing that puzzles me about your stance supporting her is that you omit from your argument her main love – ‘The Consumer’. Everything, communities, individuals, ‘society’, could be sacrificed to this god. Which, from the point of view of the Consumer (which most people are at some point; it’s the populist viewpoint par excellence)is great!. It means cheaper goods, better service, right to complain, etc., etc. Not so good for the poor employees, though, exploited to death until the EU’s Human Rights Act enabled the Labour Party to claim at least a basic wage….Were you perhaps a victim of this dog-eat-dog mentality rather than the EU??
    I’d like to say more, but I’m afraid I have to go…. Another time….
    Good luck!

  14. Pingback: Why is there a misconception that the EU has done the UK no good? | Nosemonkey’s EUtopia

  15. Robin (and perhaps Hunter), A thought has occurred to me. In the 50s, early 60s, I worked in export sales admin.: largely South America, but also other parts of the world, including Europe, and I remember that international restrictions (e.g. Britain’s Most Favoured Nations – chiefly the Commonwealth) wasted MASSIVE amounts of time and cost a fortune, purely in bureaucracy. There were so many forms to fill in and so many
    complex and varied sets of regulations to observe and weave your way through that even the simplest of orders took ages to deal with; and this admin. complexity was replicated all through the supply chain. You can get a mild idea of what it was like when you remember the game, very popular before the Euro, of someone taking, say, £100 for a trip round Europe. Because of the exchange-complications at every border (£ to Francs, Francs to DM, DM to Swiss Francs, etc., etc.) the £100 was simply swallowed up in exchange and commissions, with nothing to show for it. But worse, the border delays were comparable. Since the EU, that has all been much simplified at user-level – the cost of what seems to be like ‘EU bureaucracy’. In fact, attemoting to resolve the problems internationally at the top, rather than billions of individual times on the ground, with everybody trying to block everybody else….

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