As a teenager – and therefore a member of the future adult generation – I believe it is important to be aware of the world around us and take an interest in the political decisions that the current generation of adults is making on behalf of our futures. One such decision being the UK’s upcoming EU referendum.
- The UK is holding an ‘in/out’ referendum on our EU membership on 23rd June 2016.
- The UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, is in support of remaining in the EU and has negotiated deals for this outcome.
- The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has declared his support for a ‘Brexit’ – Britain leaving the EU.
- The government itself is divided, with the majority of Conservative (the majority party in the UK) MP’s supporting their leaders decision to remain.
Since taking up AS Level Government and Politics this year, I have gained an insight into the workings of politics, and consequently that of the EU itself. Specifically, I have studied about what powers/influence the EU has over the UK and what the EU itself does and have been able to develop my own opinion about whether the UK should remain a member of the EU or not.
Personally, I am a supporter of the ‘stronger in’ campaign, one of the main reasons being that I am not opposed to the EU having power over UK laws and being able to enforce laws on us. This is because EU law overrides national law of all of its member states meaning that in some cases UK law is insignificant due to an EU law that overpowers it. Although some would disagree with this as they do not believe that the EU – which doesn’t represent the people of the UK as well as Westminster Parliament itself does as the UK only makes up a small percentage of the European Parliament – should have more power over our laws than our national government.
Although I can’t deny the EU does have power to enforce laws in certain areas, the UK still currently has full control over: foreign, security, defense, trade, justice and economic policy. Those policy areas which the EU does have control over – for example environmental and agricultural policy – are, in my opinion, areas that affect and are relevant to Europe as a whole and are therefore more general policy areas so I think it is right that the EU is united on its policies for such areas.
Also the UK does have the right to veto (not accept) EU in certain policy areas meaning that for some things it is still in our national governments control whether we accept and implement these laws.
Therefore I don’t see EU laws overriding UK law as being that much of a problem of remaining in the EU.
Another reason why I believe we should remain a member of the EU is that being part of the EU means we don’t have to pay trading tariffs for imports and exports within the EU and it has been estimated that over 50% of our trading is done with Europe, so surely this must be a reason to stay within the EU?
Some argue that if we leave the EU we could become like Norway and still be a part of the free trade zone without actually being a member of the EU however I do not see the point in this as no deal has been made to secure this outcome if the UK does leave the EU.
A huge source of controversy surrounding the EU though is immigration as EU citizens are allowed to move freely between its member states. Some people are strongly against this as they believe that mass immigration is causing strain on housing and education among other things and that the only way to have full control of our national borders is to leave the EU. However, I have no problem with the free movement of citizens across the EU and personally think immigration is more of a benefit to the UK than a disadvantage as it helps to make or society more diverse and multicultural.
Overall, I’d like to say that as a teen it is important for us to think about these things as they will predominantly shape our futures. Whether you are an ‘inner’ or an ‘outer’, whether you agree with my view or not, I think it is vital that us teens get our voices heard and share our opinions regarding the EU referendum. Even if it’s just discussing it with your family or watching campaigns on the news, just because this is something that has been put in the hands of adults, doesn’t mean we can’t have opinions too.
When thinking about the benefits and costs of remaining or leaving the EU, it’s hard not to get tangled up in statistics that all seem to say different things, especially as a teen as the world of politics may seem very confusing and complex. However I hoped I have managed to explain my point of view adequately and will leave below a brief summary of my version of the different arguments below so you can make up your own mind.
Remaining in the EU:
- Access to no trade tariffs.
- Economic security/stability.
- Access to the estimated 3 million jobs that the EU provides for UK citizens.
- More influence on the world stage/in European affairs.
- Less control over borders and immigration.
- UK law can be overridden by EU law.
- Government money continuing to be paid into the EU.
- Less global influence.
Leaving the EU:
- Control over immigration and borders.
- Full control over UK laws.
- Freedom to make trade deals with other countries.
- Would save the government lots of money for not having to pay into the EU – ultimately giving individuals more money.
- No one knows how much money will be gained/lost if we leave the EU – the UK may end up being financially worse off.
- No deals have been negotiated with the EU for if the UK does leave so things like the suggested ‘Norway approach’ where we keep our trade link with the Eu may not actually be possible.
- Making trade deals with other countries will even further reduce the amount of products sold in the UK that are manufactured in the UK – many people are strongly in favour of increasing the prominence of our national industries and leaving may decrease this.
- Leaving the EU would cost the UK lots of jobs – estimated as 3 million – increasing job scarcity in the UK and possibly putting further pressure on the education system and increasing job competition within the UK.
Whether you are from the UK or not, I would love to know your opinion on this!
Thanks for reading this and considering mine. 🙂
P.S. featured image doesn’t belong to me.