31 MAR 2011
Ever since I became an MEP in 2004 one of the mysteries I have tried to unravel is how much does the European Union actually cost Britain, and what are the benefits if any, writes UKIP MEP Gerard Batten.
When Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973 we were told it was all about access to a ‘Common Market’ and generating more trade, jobs and prosperity. The warnings of those who said it was about the creation of a political state were dismissively brushed aside. So where are we thirty-eight years later?
We pay billions of pounds every year for the privilege of belonging to the EU. The cost of membership is ever rising, with an astronomical 97% rise in the net contributions over the last budget period. The direct contributions are bad enough but the indirect costs on the economy are worse.
The Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy cost the British public billions per annum in additional and unnecessary food prices. Over-regulation on business destroys enterprise and jobs. Last year the EU passed legislation giving it control of the finance sector (only UKIP MEPs voted against). If City firms find the EU regulatory burden too much they will simply move somewhere else in the world taking their profits, tax revenues and jobs with them.
But surely membership of the EU provides trade and jobs that offset the costs? The facts and figures show a different story. Since 1973 Britain has accumulated a massive £438 billion trade deficit with EU countries; on the other hand our profitable trade is with the USA and the English speaking world. EU countries sell us far more than we sell them. If we left the EU tomorrow they would still continue to trade with us.
I calculate that the combined direct and indirect costs (less the UK rebate) total at least £77 billion per annum. That equates to £1,246 for every man, woman and child in Britain. One thing I am sure of is that these are the minimum costs and the full costs are much higher.
If the Coalition Government really believes that EU membership is beneficial for Britain then let them prove it by commissioning an independent cost-benefit-analysis that would show as definitively as possible if EU membership benefits Britain or not. I have no doubt that it would prove that EU membership is a disaster and that we do not need it.