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Top five myths about Brexit and Europe

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Swansea for Europe Abertawe dros Ewrop

Swansea for Europe’s campaigners have held many events and street stalls around Swansea over the past three years.  When discussing issues related to Brexit and our relationships with Europe, we find that there are a lot of common misunderstandings.  In order to provide our volunteers with information to counter some of the incorrect information and misconceptions that are widespread, we researched some of the key issues and identified reputable sources of information with data to support our views.  Below are the top five myths which we have identified, plus suggested responses.

Additional notes and sources of further information are provided at the end of this article.

Myth 1. “The EU takes our money and sends back less than we put in”

  • The most economically deprived nations and regions in the UK, like Wales, get more back than they put in. In Wales the difference is about £120 per person per year [1].  If we leave, we’re not guaranteed the same level of funding from Westminster (which has already cancelled the Swansea rail electrification & tidal lagoon projects). Right now, EU agricultural subsidies can account for up to 80% of a farm’s income in Wales [2]. Without these, many Gower farmers will go bust.

Myth 2. “Immigrants take our jobs and housing”

  • Without EU workers, many industries and sectors will suffer badly. For instance, many crops won’t be harvested [3], and Welsh hospitals will experience shortages of nurses [4]. Immigration boosts the economy; it’s reliably estimated that EU27 migrants pay £4.7 billion more in taxes than they take out in benefits and public services [5].

Myth 3. “The European Court of Human Rights makes judgements that bind us”

  • The European Court of Human Rights has nothing to do with the EU and we’d still be subject to its jurisdiction even if we left the EU. The European Court of Justice makes sure that EU law (approved by member states) is fairly applied, so no EU state has an unfair legal or economic advantage [6]. If we left the EU on a ‘no-deal’ basis we’d still have to abide by the rulings of the World Trade Organisation’s own ‘court’ [7].

Myth 4. “EU membership means we lose our sovereignty and our culture”

  • We’re represented in the EU by MEPs, who are democratically elected by us (the latest EU elections were held on 23 May 2019). As a member state, the UK has an equal say to the other 27 EU member states, and we also have a right of veto and opt-out. For example, we opted out of joining the euro in 1992 and opted out of the Schengen Area in 1999.

Myth 5. “A no-deal Brexit and trading on WTO rules will work out fine.”

  • It really won’t. A no-deal Brexit would see us crashing out of the EU, and having to renegotiate 759 trade deals and agreements with the EU and a host of other countries [8].  This process would take years and cause severe damage to our economy. A no-deal Brexit would also threaten a smooth supply of food and medicines from other countries. The Welsh government is making plans to stockpile medical supplies and food if this happens [9].

This article was jointly written by Andre D’Ambra, Kat Hall and Ed Sides
Swansea for Europe • Abertawe dros Ewrop

More information: 

Notes:

[1]  For the 2014–2020 funding period, Wales was due to benefit by €140 (around £120) per person per year from being in EU, about 5 times the amount per person in England (€24),  http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7847/CBP-7847.pdf

[2]  Farming concerns over support changes, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45966265

[3] UK crops left to rot after drop in EU farm workers after Brexit referendum, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-crops-eu-farm-workers-brexitreferendum-rot-manpower-recruitment-numbers-a8194701.html

[4] Crippling NHS staff shortages being made worse by Brexit,

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/crippling-nhs-staff-shortages-being-14120395

[5] EU migration: How has it changed the UK? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45565124

[6] The UK in a Changing Europe – EHRC vs ECJ https://ukandeu.ac.uk/fact-figures/whats-the-difference-between-the-european-convention-on-human-rights-the-european-court-of-human-rights-and-the-european-court-of-justice/ 

[7] Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dispute_Settlement_Body

[8] After Brexit: The UK will need to renegotiate at least 759 treaties, https://www.ft.com/content/f1435a8e-372b-11e7-bce4-9023f8c0fd2e

[9] Welsh government stockpiling medical supplies and food and medicine in case of a no-deal Brexit, https://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/17551804.welsh-government-stockpiling-medical-supplies-in-case-of-no-deal-brexit/