EU President Jose Barroso Speaks Passionately About Why Britain Is Important To The EU And, Crucially, Vice Versa

Jose Barroso EU President at Chatham House

 

This morning the outgoing EU President spoke at Chatham House event in London explaining how much of the national uncertainty about Britain’s membership to the EU, is a natural response to having an interest in one’s own wellbeing, when represented beyond our island borders. He also highlighted that much of the rhetoric in politics that surrounds Britain’s position, ignores some vital details that voters should understand better. These include the fact that over 50% of Britain’s trade is with EU member states. Leaving the EU Trade block would make this trade more difficult.

 

He also states that those saying we should vote to leave have not as yet presented an economic model that Britain could adopt in moving forward. Without a viable alternative, Britain could find itself an outsider on the world stage. The EU represents 500million people with a voice in the world that is strengthened by it size. Breaking off into a smaller group would make us vulnerable and probably much more under the thumb of corporate demands, which more often than not, run counter to the wellbeing of citizens. Even on this last point, many corporations taking advantage of the UK’s favourable taxation laws, and proximity to Europe, have stated that should we vote to leave the European Union, they would themselves leave the UK, relocating to places such as Frankfurt.

 

Below are some of the points made by Barroso in this mornings session including answers to some insightful questions after his speech.

 

 - Britain has played a leading role in the European debate on climate change. Britain is also at the forefront of a push to set a target of 40% emissions reductions by 2030 (to be decided this Friday).

 

Greater integration is the route to solving long-term issues including jobs, industry, climate change and peace. It is only in a larger trading block that individual states can maximise their power to influence world events.

 

Over half of Britain’s trade is with EU member states, representing a market of 500 million people.

 

Maintaining our own identities is important; Barroso prefer’s a couple of glasses of red wine to beer, while on the campaign trail.

 

Too much focus on the spending figures with very little analysis of the quality of the spending of EU budgets. These include investing in research into new technologies and into the future for young people.

 

House of Lords represents one of the best analytical body’s there is, for holding legislation to account.

 

Barroso asks: What is the Euro sceptic’s economic model? How can Britain have the advantage of the single market whilst existing outside of it?

 

Large international businesses have stressed that they will leave Britain if there is an opt out, relocating to places like Frankfurt.

 

Enlargement of the EU is one of Europe’s greatest achievements ever. Now we are in a period of enlargement fatigue. The door is still open to the Balkan States, but it is unlikely there will be any enlargement for five years.

 

The EU has been a provider of stability when one considers regions including Ukraine. Serbia and Montenegro (swing states) will probably join.

 

Discussing immigration: If we have freedom of trade, joint defence and agricultural treaties, then we must have a “freedom of movement” principal. Of course the European Commission is aware of the issues of abuses of welfare systems. It is a discussion that has to be had by member governments.

 

1.4million Brits live in Europe (2.3% of the population), except in winter when the figure grows to 2million (3%).

 

If you restrict Freedom of Movement by wealth then you create first and second class citizens: “No… no!”.

 

Is Barroso an unelected Bureaucrat as claimed by British Conservative Party Chairman? He has been elected by his own country to positions such as Finance Minister and Prime Minister. He was elected by the European representatives of the member states who were themselves elected by their own people. The system is complex and often inefficient but they are working to make it less intrusive and more accountable.

 

“Britain has a lot of friends in Europe but please… keep them!”

 

On the issue of recognising Palestine as an independent state: This is an issue for individual member states and currently will remain so. Each state has a right to agree their own position.

 

Can Turkey ever become a member of the EU? The door is open but after a decade of talks, there have been developments that worry EU governments.

 

“The European Commission is not the most popular, but it is indispensable!”

 

Notes from José Manuel Barroso, Speaking at Chatham House, London 20th October 2014

 

by Nick Breeze

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