On the 23rd of June 2016 Britons are called to vote in order to say whether they want to remain or want to leave the European Union.
The UK was the ninth country that joined the European Community, as the EU was called at that time; it was January 1973 twice after the French President De Gaulle opposed and exercising his veto power blocked the UK‘s joining of the Europen Community.
At that time the Prime Minister was Mr Edward Heath who was leading a Conservative government; it was a time of depression for the country and Mrs Thatcher’s austerity was just around the corner ready to come.
Britons realised the opportunity they were being given and voted YES at the referendum held in 1975.
Joining the EC meant a lot to the UK in terms of overcoming the depression and progressing in the following years. The UK’s mantle as a great country is thanks to and not in spite of the EU.
All the while not accepting the Euro currency over a decade ago, this country has maintained a central role within the inner workings of the EU.
The considerable immigration to the UK throughout the last 20 years has assumedly contributed to the swell in the ranks of Euro-skeptics.
As a result of this phenomenon, a number of political parties have taken advantage of the discomfort of the population and have started massive anti-immigration campaigns blaming the EU and Bruselles as accountable for the assumed “invasion“ of the UK and for the challenge to the local values which has recognisably started an intense anti-EU mass mantra of “We must LEAVE THE EU. We must LEAVE THE EU. We must LEAVE THE EU”.
The present government led by the Conservatives has made the anti-EU campaign their own manifesto, taking any efforts in order to have this referendum, and even forcing the setting of the date to occur as soon as possible. They managed to call electors to vote on the 23rd of June 2016, while initially the plan was to have the referendum being held in September 2016.
Over the last months the Prime Minister Mr David Cameron has dealt with the European Union’s principal actors forcing him to eventually change his strategy and the Conservatives, who actually wanted this referendum, are now advocating for remaining in the EU.
The mantra has however become so widespread that even traditionally non anti-immigration parties are campaigning to leave the EU.
What needs to be pondered on is what are the main risks for the country and for the population should the UK leave the EU.
If we peruse such risks from the point of view of the impact on jobs and businesses, rise of prices and family issues, the national economy and public services, we may have a clearer picure.
This country relies on many external sources such as million of people coming to UK for tourism or to learn the English language, the UK also relies on continental European countries in respect of goods both produced in such countries and exported to the UK; additionally thousands of EU nationals come to the UK every year to serve in the NHS and to work in the hospitality, construction, education, finance and banking, and other sectors too.
The UK has a longstanding tradition of reputable relations with other EU Nations, and nationals from these countries who are often highly qualified have filled the positions and roles in many relevant working environments.
Leaving the EU would for example force millions to leave the country, a fate shared by both individuals as well as companies. It would mean less flexibility for those willing to come to the UK to study the English language or to get a qualification, it would also mean the actual risk for the NHS in terms of difficulties in finding qualified doctors and nurses and other healthcare personnel given that a number of them are employed from ouside the UK. It also has to be considered that thanks to the EU policies, UK companies are able to create thousands of new jobs around Europe every year meaning bigger income for such companies. Should the UK leave the EU it is likely such companies will no longer be competitive in Europe and as a result of this their businesses will stop.
Visas for EU nationals might be reintroduced, restrictive procedures for the import / export sectors would likely be enforced and this would generally ensure a longer time for deliveries and additional costs as well as rising prices of goods for the consumers, namely the millions of UK families. The British universities will re-experience the effects of depression from years gone by, in the number of students pursuing Bachelors degrees, Masters programmes and other graduate and post-graduate courses.
Leaving the EU will also mean less protection for Britons in terms of their fundamental human rights and they will experience less personal freedoms as well. It is also a likely fate for Britons living in the EU countries, including the hundreds of thousands of retired people who have settled in Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and Greece.
Thinking of human rights for instance it is worth to recall the present government wanted to repeal the Human Rights Act, which incapsulates the content of the European Convention on Human Rights. Even though such an instrument comes from the Council of Europe, which is a different organisation, and not from the EU, it is a fact that the EU itself has now acquired a number of competencies in respect of human rights policies and enforcement; also thanks to the EU regulations the domestic rules are now more compliant with the human rights standards, which is for example well reflected in terms of consumers’ rights.
Focussing on business, leaving the EU will mean for the UK a total collapse in the economy, and a tougher life for the country and its millions of citizens. It will mean to be outside the free market that has made the country so great and successful over the last decades, and will make the British isles compeltely isolated from the rest of the world.
Leaving the EU, will mean less protection, less rights, less services, less jobs, less competition, less opportunities and at the same time will mean higher prices and costs for families and companies, tougher procedures and fees for moving to and investing in the EU for Britons and for EU nationals to come and to invest in UK, more paperwork which implies a requirement to pay more, and longer time-frames for any procedure, to name just a few.
“Staying in the EU means an even stronger Britain!”.
Alex A. Amicarelli PhD for LegalPaal LLP
International lawyer and advisor & course trainer
Disclaimer: The opinions and statements expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the newspaper’s view.