On 23 June, the UK electorate will determine the future of the UK’s relationship with Europe.
Before making the biggest political and macroeconomic decision in a generation, voters should be armed with reliable evidence. Therefore, a group of lawyers, including King & Wood Mallesons Senior Partner Stephen Kon, formed a think-tank to gather together into a single report the benefits, misconceptions and alternatives to EU membership.
The group concluded that UK’s best interests are served by remaining in the EU, and several hundred signatories have since added their names to report, produced by ‘Lawyers – In for Britain‘.
- UK citizens take many of the benefits of EU membership for granted because they have now become part of the fabric of UK life. The EU has given the UK easier and cheaper travel, a more secure society, a cleaner environment, a wider choice of products, confidence that the goods and services available in the UK are of the same high standard and quality. Guaranteed access to the single market has helped support a dynamic economy, raise economic growth, boost living standards and create jobs.
- Nevertheless, many people have legitimate questions about the EU. They are concerned about the supremacy of EU law, and the financial costs of membership. But there is a great deal of misinformation circulating. For example, whilst it is true that EU law overrides inconsistent national laws, this is necessary for the EU to function effectively. The single market could not operate without enforceable common rules, which replace a patchwork of 28 different and often conflicting national laws. These laws protect the rights of UK citizens and businesses in the rest of the EU.
- Many areas of UK law are unaffected by EU law and the UK has obtained a number of significant ‘opt outs‘ that significantly limit the areas where EU law applies, particularly in relation to the euro and the free movement of persons. The costs of EU membership can also be exaggerated. The UK’s net contribution to the EU budget is less than 1 per cent of the UK Government’s total expenditure.
- About half of the UK’s trade is with the rest of the EU and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future whether we remain or leave. However, if the UK were to leave, UK businesses would still have to comply with EU law for trading, but the UK would lose any control over the content of those laws.