With a referendum on continuing British membership of the European Union(EU) becoming increasingly likely, where is the balancing voice in the debate from non-resident British citizens living within the EU in continental Europe, as Britain seems to sleepwalk to the exit?
Of these estimated 1 million expatriate British citizens some will be already disenfranchised by the 15-year-rule stripping them of their national voting rights. Other EU British citizens might feel that the affairs of their country of birth are no longer their concern and, therefore, can’t be bothered to register and vote to make their voice heard. Some of course remain very concerned, such as Brian Cave a key member of our campaigning team to remove this 15-year-limit on our voting rights (you can add your vote here in support if you agree). Read Brian’s article below on the implications for the British citizen in Europe and the UK of a possible exit from the European Union and make your voice heard.
Sir Roger Gale MP (Cons North Thanet) writes in his January newsletter…..
…..Boris Johnson, suggests that David Cameron must hold an “In/Out” referendum and that it should be held before the next general election. …………………………. ………….. with polls suggesting that today more than 50% of the electorate would vote for the exit door it`s easy to see where the Mayor of London is coming from. That Herman Van Rompuy believes that the “EU would fall apart if countries were allowed to pick and choose” which policies they would like to endorse indicates a triumph of bureaucracy over democracy. The people? Choose? Perish the thought. “The single Market”, says Rumpy Pumpy “would unravel”. Now there are those of us who were naive enough to believe that it was a single market and not a Federal United States of Europe, that we were joining all those years ago. And yet curiously, it is the arch-federalist Jacques “Up Yours” Delors, three-times President of the European Commission, who comes out of the woodwork to suggest that the UK could enjoy a “partnership” in a European Free-Trade Area without necessarily remaining a member of the EU.
Get out of Europe?
The Britons who live in Europe must seriously understand the pressure that is building to take Britain out of the Union . At its extreme this could be a disaster. At its best it means a re-appraisal of circumstances for all Britons in Europe . As things stand none of these Britons have any political voice whatsoever in whatever decisions are made, yet these Britons are those most closely affected. The situation is not democratic.
Consider the worst scenario – That is to say complete secession from the European Union. Britons would then have much the same status as Americans in Europe.
Britons would no longer be European Citizens – the passports would all revert to Citizens of the British Isles (or England & Wales, Scotland, etc….)
Freedom to live in continental Europe, to freely own property, to move freely, transfer funds without hindrance would cease. Winter Fuel Payments would cease, perhaps difficulties with other benefits (?); automatic medical support would cease, The use of the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) would cease, which would affect all British Citizens holidaying in Europe.
This worst scenario is surely unlikely. Yet is that what the anti-unionists are proposing? (that is — Exit from the EU)
It is suggested by some that Briton could have a status similar to Switzerland or Norway (so called European Free Trade Association States). These countries are not in the Union as such but the difference in actuality is really quite slight.
Looking at EFTA Status fro Britain?
The following is condensed from the WIKIPEDIA reference on the EFTA nations
The EFTA nations (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and also Switzerland) adhere to the same “four freedoms” as the EU -goods, persons, services, and capital, and in consequence these countries have accepted in this regard the Laws of the European Union. BUT they have little influence on the decision-making processes in Brussels, because they are not members of the EU, though members of the EEA (European Economic Area)
The EFTA countries do not bear the financial burdens of EU membership, although they contribute financially to the European single market.
After the EU/EEA enlargement of 2004, there was a tenfold increase in the financial contribution of the EEA States, in particular Norway, to social and economic cohesion in the Internal Market (€1167 million over five years).
EFTA countries do not receive any funding from EU policies and development funds.
Could Britain be like Switzerland or Norway?
The outer ring of EFTA members within the umbrella of the European Economic Area still come under EU directives without being fully involved in their construction. What then is the advantage of not being full members? That is difficult to understand – perhaps it is just an emotional idea. It is surely odd to be subject to the EU regulations and directives and not be able to participate in their formulation? These countries, much smaller than the UK, have essentially accepted a less democratic association with the EU just to remain part of the single market. This weakening of the influence of the UK in a similar association with the EU would certainly suit Jacques Delors, not known in the past for his support of Britain .
What do those people in Britain who wish to see Britain ‘out of the EU’ actually seek? There is no clear vision from them but only negative criticism.
If they want to see the country leave fully and completely then truly it could well be a monumental shock which all British Citizens on the continent would regret. It is unrealistic to expect a smooth withdrawal from the EU (with a bonfire of all agreements), and a belief that this would result in a flourishing British economy.
To quote from a blog on the site of the influential organisation ‘TheCityUK’ – representing finance firms. “The UK ’s financial and professional services sector benefits greatly not only from access to the Single Market within the EU but also from the global opportunities that the EU, negotiating globally from a position of market strength, can bring”. The Chairman of ‘TheCityUK’ says – ‘We have not made the case strongly enough how important it is that the UK remains the EU’s financial centre.’
If Britain seceded from the Union , then International Banks would probably move their operations to Europe . The British GDP could lose 25 billion in trade and 2% of tax revenue.
Should it not be the role of Britain to play a full part in the development of Europe ? With the European Commission’s trade directorate at this time proposing comprehensive trade negotiations with the US and Japan , should not the UK be involved in such talks between equivalent economic weight trading areas, as part of the EU?
Britain should take a lead in helping to correct the failings of Europe and willingly and wholeheartedly bring to the European nations the expertise and leadership for which Britain ought to be famed. The Nations of Europe deplore the weakness of Britain in Europe . Britain should get ‘stuck in’ and take a lead. No longer should it pussyfoot in the wings.
Should not the British Citizens who live on the Continent and are profoundly affected, be consulted? Why does the British Government not consider us? Are a million British Citizens to be ignored?
Should not British Citizens in Europe shake off their British apathy and take action?
We must demand that our voices are heard.
If you have not already done so, select at least five politicians (MPs & Lords) of your choosing from the address list. One of our correspondents has written to 22 MPs. Our future depends on this kind of action.
Forward or affix this whole message and add:
“Please consider the needs of the one million British Citizens in Europe . We need to remain part of the European Union. Furthermore we need a democratic voice through a democratic principle to vote for an elected representative, so that our voice is always to be heard when the British Government makes decisions which affect us.”
Author: Brian Cave (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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It is significant that the US is urging Britain to keep a strong voice in Europe, with some predictable and perhaps more “inward looking” reactions from eurosceptics in the report below: