Britain: a slow climb out of the Euro-hole?

Again, well-intentioned EU rules hamper UK growth prospects.  A vote on membership can't come soon enough.

In an effectively written article on a rule change from Brussels, the Telegraph points out that as much as Chancellor George Osborne stresses the need for growth in the private sector and is "updating his Plan for Growth" the EU is causing problems.  The Telegraph View quotes Treasury sources as saying "this rolling review involves “an intensive programme of engagement with businesses… to identify the barriers (they) face”.  As Mr Osborne has said many times, economic growth will be driven by the private sector."  But "The Agency Workers Directive (AWD), first drawn up in Brussels nearly 10 years ago when the economy was booming, will grant temporary agency employees the same employment rights and conditions as permanent workers, including paid holiday entitlement and maternity leave. The consequences are plain for all to see: cash-strapped employers will simply stop taking on part-time staff. The Institute of Directors has called it one of the most damaging laws to come out of Brussels in years." 

How does Britain maintain trading links with neighbouring countries while the European club to which most belongs is causing havoc with social, economic and diplomatic policies?  If the UK's involvement with the EU were a profitable exercise, I could imagine that withdrawal would be devastating.  Yet the UK's membership of the European club is both unprofitable and damaging.

Membership opens the door to hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic migrants from Poland and the East which strain public resources, fill vacancies and unfairly compete with local tradespeople.  Latest figures show that net inbound migration in 2010 increased by 21% over 2009.  This is largely due to non-EU flow, according to the Express, noting that "the majority of immigrants arriving in Britain – 300,000 – were from outside the EU."  

But the Guardian alerts to the "resurgence of migration from Poland and other east European countries.   Net migration from the A8 countries, as they are known, has risen from 5,000 in 2009 to 39,000 in 2010."   The Express calculates that "Britain’s total Polish population is now to 532,000, which is the same as the fifth largest city in Poland, Poznan."  The newspaper continues "Campaigners last night warned the Government will struggle to fulfil its pledge to slash net migration to tens of thousands by 2015.  Immigration Minister Damian Green defended the figures, saying that the rise in net migration covered a period before the Government’s immigration reforms were brought in.  “The figures stabilised in the last quarter,” he said.  “The Government radically changed immigration policy, from our first months in office, to drive the numbers down with a limit on economic migration and changes to student visas.”

"Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the campaign group Migration Watch UK, said: “These figures lay bare the legacy of the Labour government. The Coalition will have to face down some vested interests if they are to get anywhere near their target.”" reports the Express.  

While the Government can work to cut non-EU migration, it can do nothing to stem the tide of Europeans wanting to settle in the UK until Britain leaves the European club.  And that's not possible until a membership referendum is held.  

Thankfully, the Liberal Democrats are committed to a plebiscite on the issue.  Their statement reveals "The Liberal Democrats believe we should have a real vote on Europe - whether we should be in Europe or out.  We want that real referendum because if Britain is to stride forward confidently into the 21st century and tackle global issues like climate change and terrorism, we need to decide once and for all whether our future lies within the European Union, or outside it."  A risky stance from a pro-European party, but a brave one.  And very welcome.

It's possible for all European countries - whether in the EU like France, or out of it like Norway - to hold a consensus view and to develop integrated policies to reduce emissions to combat climate change.  If the world can cobble together deals on tackling global warming, like the one in 2010 at the Cancún Climate Summit, then so can the Europeans. 

And Europol was set up in 1999 to combat criminal activity by sharing intelligence. Either this agency's mandate could be extended to fight terrorism or a sister agency established to do the same job.  Anti-terrorism information is already shared anyway, as the Mail reported in 2003, "Italian counter-terrorism police are interrogating five Moroccans suspected of plotting a terrorist bomb attack in London.  The men were found in a squalid farmhouse with 2.2lbs of explosives and maps, reportedly including central London, churches and Nato bases in Italy."  After the 7/7 2005 terror attack on London, four men were sought - three were captured in the UK, and the Guardian reported "a fourth man, Hussein Osman, was seized by Italian police in a suburb of Rome."

A full-blown Referendum is essential.   Bring it on.  The tide of opinion in Britain - always one of the most Eurosceptic members of the EU - is moving remorsely in the direction of withdrawal.  Latest opinion polls indicate that far more people in the United Kingdom regard Europe negatively. 

I've come to believe that the European Union is tiresome, expensive, moribund, bankrupt, undemocratic and bureaucratic.  And I think the Brits will agree if they're allowed a vote on the subject.  Will the Conservative-led government permit it?  Maybe this latest ploy regarding part-time workers' conditions will spur PM David Cameron into action.  For, how long can the Brits continue to be members of a club whose rules are designed to thwart progress and cause distress?  

In spite of EU meddling, the free market model employed by Britain will enable the country to grow its economy by over 43% by 2016 - while France grows by only 24% and Germany by a mere 18%, according projections from the April 2011 edition of the IMF World Economic Outlook database, notes Wikipedia.  How much faster could the UK develop if it were unhindered by the harmful shackles of EU membership?

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