Britain in the EU – better off by far

EU UK jigsawHidden in the digital depths of the BIS (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) website is a document entitled the UK and the Single Market.

It’s actually the fourth in “a series of 18 trade and investment analytical papers” produced under the present government.

And with a description like that, it’s perhaps unlikely to attract a huge number of readers.

Nevertheless, it’s more than worth the effort, and though it’s actually been available since 2011, I think it needs to be publicised a bit more.

Because what it does is drive a coach and horses through a central euro-sceptic argument.

One of the main claims, by UKIP and many in the Tory party, is that being a member of the European Union actually costs us money – a lot of money.

Now the BIS paper doesn’t address the precise cost we pay, whether or not the EU rebate, and EU structural and other funds are taken into account.  We are, of course, a net contributor to the tune of several billion pounds a year.

But what the paper does do is look at the other side of the equation; how much we have actually benefited financially from our membership.

And, drawing on various sources, it comes up with a pretty impressive conclusion, dwarfing by some way even the most outlandish claims of UKIP about what we pay in.

As a result of being a member of the single market and the increased trade and affluence this has brought, there have been income gains in the UK of between 2% and 6%.

This works out as somewhere between £1100 and £3300 a year for every British household.

Or to put it another way, that means every man, woman and child in Britain is better off by between £457 and £1373 a year!

But it isn’t just that we already benefit hugely financially from being in the EU.

Indeed the central point of the document is that there is still substantial scope to do even better!    A single market which functioned more efficiently would bring further gains in terms of increased trade and greater affluence.

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