Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

EU for UK: Silencer or megaphone?

The global crisis has highlighted an unpleasant fact: the EU will not survive long without major changes. Long-standing problems in the economy have been getting more and more serious, and Brussels has shown to be ineffective in dealing with them. Many politicians have started talking about the need to decentralize power in the EU, while the UK is considers leaving the organization. 

Britain wants the EU decentralized

The UK intends to strive for the decentralization of the EU following the principle of "Europe - where necessary, national - where possible," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said. In his view, the modern European Union does not function properly, and the endless centralization of Europe should be stopped.

"Now the European Union plays a bigger role in our Kingdom than the vast majority of citizens would like it to play, and the Union got the role without the permission from the British. The Britons want change, they want choice, and we must give them the choice. Cosmetic changes are not enough, we want real changes in the principles of functioning of the EU, we want to stop this endless centralization. We need the Europe that would not be dedicated to the creation of more rules to ensure even greater intervention of Brussels. Europe must return the authority and power to national parliaments and voters. This is the Europe we want," said Hague, speaking at the meeting of the Conservative Party in Manchester.

"The Dutch are also against the ever closer union. We must have these requirements written in the EU legislation. Brussels needs to be deprived of a part of powers, decisions must be made individually by each country. This will be a fundamentally new approach to Europe," said the Minister.

Earlier, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, said that the British government should be able to deport criminals and illegal migrants. In this regard, he does not rule out that the UK may pull out from the Convention on Human Rights.

Noteworthy, that the relations with the EU make one of the key issues of the conference of the Conservatives. The Labour Party are traditionally considered to be ardent supporters of the preservation of Britain in the EU. In turn, the Conservatives are more skeptical.

... And they do not want to pay the European debts

The European Union needs the additional $5 billion. However, the British government opposed the proposals of the EU authorities to increase their contributions to the EU budget in 2013. The European Commission earlier called on EU member states to increase the funding for the budget of the Union, as the EU does not have enough money to pay the bills worth the total of about $5 billion. Britain and some other countries refused to do so. Prior to that, the EU attracted the additional ten billion dollars to cover the rising costs.

Britain may pull out from the EU

In January of this year, UK's David Cameron proposed a referendum on the country's continued presence in the EU. He expressed a hope that the UK would not pull out from the EU as united Europe would still be able to reform its own structures and restore the shattered confidence of the European people.

The British prime minister said that the referendum would take place only if the Conservative Party that he chairs would win the elections in 2015. In this case, the voting will most likely take place in 2017.

"In the election manifesto of the Conservative Party, we will ask the British people to give the government the right to negotiate a new agreement with European colleagues," said Cameron. "After that, we will offer the British a referendum that will only contain one simple question - either go or stay," said the prime minister.

If such a referendum is not held, the probability for Britain to pull out from the united Europe will increase significantly, Cameron believes. He stressed out that the number of Britons, who support the country's membership in the EU, has been deceasing steadily.

The British Prime Minister listed the main problems of the modern European Union. These include the decrease in competitiveness in world markets, the euro zone crisis, the crisis of confidence in the European Union on the part of ordinary citizens. According to Cameron, people are unhappy with the fact that "European institutions take important decisions without getting the mandate of voters for that. The British PM is certain that if the EU is not reformed in the near future, it will face the danger of collapse, and the UK would have to leave the organization. "If nothing is done, if no important reforms are made, Europe will come to an end. I do not want this to happen, I want to see the successful European Union," said Cameron.

The British prime minister stands for the decentralization of power. Cameron proposed to conclude a new agreement between all EU countries that would give these countries (and the UK) more power than they have now. If other countries do not support the British proposal, London is ready to sign a separate agreement with the EU, which will provide a special status to the country.

According to Cameron, the norms of the fiscal union that is being created to address the problems of the eurozone, should not apply to financial companies and banks of London. At the same time, Britain should be on a par with other countries in terms of access to the common market. The British government wants to ensure that the UK does not fall under the influence of European standards in the field of regulation of the labor market, particularly regulations about 48-hour working week. The current government also wants to refuse from  a number of contracts relating to the fight against crime - the single European arrest mandate should be made optional.

It should be noted that despite his statements, the head of the UK Government is convinced that the country, being a part of the common European market, remains in the national interest of the Kingdom. The prime minister said that it would be wrong to hold such a referendum now. According to him, the British, making their choices, should proceed from the future of the European Union, rather from the present, which does not suit many. The British Prime Minister also said that he would campaign for the preservation of the Kingdom in the European Union, but in the renovated and reformed European Union. 

To stay or not to stay?

While some countries dream about joining the European Union to make their national economies less vulnerable, Britain began to think about leaving the United Europe. London benefits from the EU membership mainly for political reasons.

In case of separation from the European Union, the economic effect will not exceed one per cent of GDP. London's benefit from not following common policy in the agricultural sector, one of the main activities of the EU, makes up 0.5-1 percent of GDP. However, the United Kingdom may find itself in a slightly worse situation.

Foreign investment will decrease. International companies from India, Japan, China and the United States will most likely move to other countries. The army of the unemployed will grow significantly, as three million Britons are engaged in the manufacture of products that are exported to other EU countries.

Tamara Kasyanova, Ph.D. and first Vice -President of the All-Russian public organization Russian Club of Central Financial Officers," believes that Britain's steps away from the EU membership will affect the country's position on the political arena. The acquisition of identity, according to the analyst, will affect the welfare of the Kingdom: the country will lose the opportunity to participate in European affairs as a full member. Cooperating with the EU, the country can obtain maximum benefits. For the United Kingdom, which tends to be heard in the world, Europe is not a silencer, but a megaphone. Therefore, no one seriously considers the idea of pulling out from the EU. The UK wants to expand its sphere of influence in Europe and gain more rights and opportunities.

Sergei Vasilenko


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