EMiS in the media 2016. . .

Hover or click an item to read the full article.

We benefit so much from belonging in EU

6th June

Lord Campbell's letter in the Scotsman lists many of the advantages of our membership of the EU.

Very briefly he covered the following topics. (Do read the full article. He has interesting points you may not know as well as a description of how the democratic process works.)

Peace

Strong foundation for democracy and human rights influencing other countries.

Access to largest common market in the world of 500 million. Can do business without hindrance or barriers.

Safety and security. Police and military co-operation. The EU spearheaded the naval operations that brought an end to Somali piracy which threatened the transport of goods and the lives of those who served on the ships transporting them.

Social chapter which enhances the rights of workers, women and minorities. These cannot be taken away by governments.

In Scotland, the country’s infrastructure projects, educational establishments and economic opportunities have been funded by the European Union. Some of these have been large and some small, for example the current Scotch Beef campaign which has been supported by European development assistance. When the United States sought to place prohibitive tariffs on the products of the cashmere industry of the Scottish Borders in a dispute, would you believe, about the import of bananas in the United Kingdom, it was the strength of EU bargaining power that caused the Americans to back down when the issue went to the World Trade Organisation.

Lord Campbell admits the EU is not perfect and gives examples of what he would like to change.

At the end there is a short FactBox:

EU immigrants make a net contribution to the UK of £4,775,341 per day – or, to put it in stark terms, £55 per second to the public purse.

Through the European Arrest Warrant, 904 arrests have been made on behalf of UK forces in the past six years with Spain ( 245) and Ireland (166) being the countries helping most. These 904 arrests include 103 cases of child sex offences, 63 cases of rape and 65 of murder or manslaughter.

Scotland pays an 8.4 per cent population share of the UK’s EU membership fee but we get back 17.4 per cent of all the EU spending in the UK.

For for every £1 Scotland gives to the EU we get at least £20 back through increased trade, EU funding and increased taxation.

Currently, in the UK, around 15 per cent of laws come from the EU or have an EU influence and a similar figure applies to regulations.

The European Parliament costs each European citizen £2.34 per year which contrasts sharply with the UK Parliament which costs over twice as much at £5.51 per person per year.

Security, the EU and Nato

25th May

The following article appeared in the Herald Scotland.

When asked about the future security of the United Kingdom those who wish to leave the European Union have a one-word, simple and simplistic answer – Nato. As if that was the end of the matter.

But in doing so they ignore the history of the European continent.

Those who conceived of the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community in the aftermath of the Second World War did so in recognition of that history. Armaments had not brought peace or security to Europe, indeed the opposite. Their reasoning was that those are economically close are less likely to be at each other’s throats.

Coal and steel may now seem a modest beginning for the EU but the six countries which joined together were those who had suffered the greatest physical and social damage in the war.

They had a common interest in coal and steel, the necessary components of rebuilding the fabric of their countries and restoring their economies. Self-evidently and openly economic cooperation had the political purpose of fostering and maintaining stable and peaceful relations with each other. Britain's decision to join the Community had similar objectives.

With common political interests the expanding membership of the EU has been based on human rights and democratic values. Nor is it any wonder those European countries escaping from the pollution of fascism and communism have for reasons of both trade and security wanted to join the EU as well as Nato.

Their purpose in doing so is to provide a stable and lasting peace on which to build and maintain their new found commitment to democracy.

The Brexiters argue the EU wants to create an army for itself and that this would undermine Nato. But go round the capitals of the members of the States of the European Union and ask if their governments want an EU army. Apart from Mr Juncker, the President of the Commission, you will find very few takers.

The reason is that the continuing centrepiece of Nato is the American commitment to Europe. Faced with an increasingly assertive Russia why would any European government want to create a rival to the defence organisation which has at its heart the mighty US and has served the continent well.

But there is an issue where European members of Nato need to step up to the plate. And that is in defence expenditure.

The Nato obligation to spend annually 2% of GDP agreed at Celtic Manor in 2014 is a minimum and only a handful of nations have achieved it. In the case of the United Kingdom creative accounting required the inclusion of armed forces pensions and expenditure on the security services to fulfil the obligation.

In Washington the administration and members of Congress are expressing their concern that Europe gets its defence on the cheap at the expense of the US. At the upcoming Nato summit in Warsaw in July you can be sure this issue will once again be on the agenda. And this time the exchanges may be even more frank.

A rebalancing by the US towards the East in response to China's increasing confidence inevitably has implications for resources and the pressure on Europe will grow and the language more strident.

So why are Nato and the EU together necessary guarantors of our security? There is an obvious answer. It is Mr Putin. His determination to make Russia more influential on the continent of Europe rests on two pillars.

First the destabilisation of the European Union and second the undermining of Nato. He talks of a "new security structure for Europe" with Nato diminished, the EU fractured and Russia dominant. There is still resentment in Russia that when the Warsaw Pact collapsed Nato did not go into voluntary liquidation.

Putin's support of dissidents in the Ukraine serves both his European objectives. Don't dare expand membership of Nato or the EU. And don't forget just how fragile the Baltic states are, with their Russian-speaking populations and Kaliningrad on their doorsteps.

The response to Russia's ambition has been two-fold. Unanimous EU-wide sanctions which have had a significant impact on the Russian economy and Nato's decision to deploy more forces in Eastern Europe to underline the Alliance's commitment to all of its members.

If you need any evidence that the EU and Nato are both necessary for the security of Europe this is plain for all to see.

Committee member on BBC Scotland

19th May

David Clarke, a committee member appeared on BBC Scotland in a discussion of how Brexit would affect both EU citizens in this country and British expats living in the EU. It can be viewed on the BBC webiste until 18th June.

 

Ming dismisses Vote Leave claims on more domestic powers

18th May

This is a précis of the article which appeared in the Guardian.

The Vote Leave campaign told Scottish voters they will have far more freedom to control fisheries, farming and health policy without interference from London if the UK leaves the EU.

Under the UK’s devolution laws, Holyrood has wide-ranging powers independent of Westminster to dictate its own policies and laws on crime, education, health, transport, farming, the environment, the economy and, to a more limited extent, welfare and taxation.

Brexit campaigners argue that in many key areas, the powers are limited and controlled by EU policy. Holyrood’s efforts to enforce minimum pricing on alcohol on health grounds have been bogged down by more than three years of litigation because it would breach EU open market and competition rules.

Their arguments were dismissed as "constitutional nonsense" by Lord Menzies Campbell. He said all the UK’s treaty obligations with the EU would be returned to Westminster, which would then decide what to share out with national assemblies and parliaments.

"Scotland is not a party to these treaties. If Britain were to leave all the obligations contained in the treaties would return to the UK parliament," he said.

Read the blog by committee member David Brew on this issue.

Europe Day, Celebrating the EU

Photo of Alex Orr

9th May 2016

The following article appeared in the Scotsman, The Edinburgh News, The Herald Scotland and The National.

Today events take place across Scotland and the rest of the European Union (EU) to mark Europe Day, an annual celebration of peace and unity across the continent.

Thousands of people will take part in visits, debates, concerts and other events to mark the day and raise awareness of the EU. Europe Day is especially relevant this year, given the impending referendum in the UK on EU membership in just over six weeks’ time on 23rd June.

The day is also known as Schuman Day, commemorating the historical declaration 66 years ago on 9th May, 1950 by the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, which marked the first move towards the creation of the European Union. Europe had just come out of the Second World War, a conflict that had nearly destroyed the continent and split it between two spheres of influence.

In a desire not to repeat such destruction there was a great deal of momentum towards European co-operation, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable. Wartime British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, standing next to Robert Schuman, had called for Franco-German reconciliation in a united Europe in a speech in July 1946.

Schuman’s vision was to create a European institution that would pool and manage coal and steel production. Through the Schuman Declaration the French foreign minister proposed the creation of a supranational European institution. This led firstly to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) the following year. It was also the forerunner of several other European Communities and also what is now the European Union.

The ECSC was founded on the principle that tying former arch-enemies economically together – originally through the weapons of war of coal and steel – would assist in ending the horrors of such conflicts and deliver much-needed reconciliation. And it has proven to be highly successful in transforming a previously warring continent, acting as the foundation of peace after centuries of bloodshed.

The delivery of peace, stability and prosperity are just some of the reasons why we should vote to remain in the EU in the June referendum, to see the bigger picture of the benefits that our membership brings.

Since the Schuman Declaration nations across Europe have forged closer links and come together to reach common solutions to common problems, keeping the peace and enhancing our collective security.

The EU gives the freedom to live, study, work or retire in 27 other EU countries and many millions from the UK have taken advantage of this. EU migration to our shores has in turn benefitted our economy and society.

Being able to trade with our EU partners via a single market of over half a billion consumers, unfettered by tariffs and trade barriers, is essential to many Scottish businesses. Indeed, the EU accounts for almost half of Scotland’s international exports.

Guaranteed rights to paid holidays; maternity and paternal leave; equal treatment for part-time and agency workers – all these are contingent upon our EU membership. We also enjoy considerable consumer protections such as the right to refunds on goods, lower mobile phone roaming charges and travel protections, to name but a few.

Co-ordinated action among 28-member states ensures cleaner water and beaches, cleaner air, tighter controls on new chemicals and reduced waste. Being part of the wider EU is also the best way to address the major global challenges we face – climate change, the threat of terrorism, energy security, the migration crisis and economic problems.

For those who are fighting for the values of freedom and democracy across the world the EU has been an inspiration, and for those member states formerly under the jackboot of dictatorship and Communism membership of the EU acted as a beacon of hope.

As we look towards the referendum, in a matter of weeks, it does no harm in being reminded what we have enjoyed, the precious gift of more than 60 years of peace, stability and prosperity in a previously war ravaged continent. This, all for the equivalent of a contribution to the EU of 26p a day from each and every one of us.

The EU is not perfect, far from it, but to leave would be to row against the tide of history and Europe Day gives us a chance to celebrate the EU and its many achievements.

Ming on BBC Good Morning Scotland

25th April

Lord Campbell was on BBC Good Morning Scotland this morning with Tom Harris from Vote Leave.

Promoting the merits to Scottish business of staying in the EU he urged the business community to 'get off the sidelines' and make its voice heard.

You can hear the full interview here.

Ming urges Scottish business community to 'get off the sidelines'

Press release taken up by Holyrood magazine, The Mail Online, The National, The Courier, The Daily Record, The Scottish Herald and The Scotsman.

25th April

Lord (Ming) Campbell, who is leading the European Movement in Scotland campaign to keep the UK in the EU has urged Scottish businesses to ‘get off the sidelines’ and make their voices heard on the benefits of EU membership in the run up to EU Referendum.

Commenting that the business community has a major role to play in this debate, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem urged it to stand up and be counted or risk seeing the UK sleepwalking to Brexit and the considerable negative economic impacts this will have.

With polls so close he also noted that Scotland could have a key role to play in the outcome of the referendum.

The call from Lord Campbell comes as the Scottish Chambers of Commerce described the economy as on a ‘knife edge’ between growth and recession and the prospects for the economy are ‘unclear’ in its latest quarterly survey.1 The latest official figures also show that unemployment in Scotland rose by 20,000 between December and February to stand at 171,000.

Treasury analysis on the cost of an EU exit says the UK's national income could be 6% smaller - the equivalent of £4,300 a year per household - by 2030.2

More than 330,000 Scottish jobs are dependent on EU exports3 and almost half our international exports to the EU, valued at £11.6 billion.4

In addition, according to research by Ernst and Young, Scotland has consolidated its place as the second biggest UK destination outside London for foreign direct investment, supporting thousands of jobs. Many of those companies investing here are doing so due to our membership of the 28 nation EU, the largest single market in the world.

Lord Campbell said: "It is vital that Scottish businesses get off the sidelines and ensure that they raise their concerns over an exit and highlight what the bigger picture of our EU membership means to them.

"As part of the largest single market in the world, our businesses are able to trade freely across the 28 nations of the EU and we are a focus for inward investment, in part due to our membership of the EU. However, the Scottish Chamber of Commerce has already highlighted how ‘fragile’ the Scottish economy is and withdrawal from the EU will damage our economic recovery.

"With the vote so close across the UK, Scotland could hold the key to the outcome of this referendum and it is vital that all who recognise our future as EU members stand up and be counted.

"The business community has a key role to play here and would urge those who benefit from and see our future as being members of the EU not to sit on the sidelines and see us sleepwalking to Brexit, but to stand up and be counted."

1 Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Economic growth must be priority for next Scottish Government, 14th April 2016. (accessed 18th April 2016)

2 HM Treasury, EU referendum: HM Treasury analysis key facts, 18th April 2016. (accessed 18th April 2016)

3 Scottish Government, The Benefits of Scotland’s EU membership, 2015.  (accessed 18th April 2016).

4 Scottish Government, Export Statistics Scotland 2014, 27th January 2016. (accessed 18th April 2016).

Scotland should not take a vote to Remain for granted

Letter to the press by our president. It appeared in the National, Scotsman, Scottish Herald and Daily Mail.

31st March

On 30th March the House of Lords EU Committee called for a "positive, inclusive vision” of our membership of the EU and insisted that the UK Government should "articulate the positive benefits of EU membership."

This echoes the recent report by the European and External Relations Committee of the Scottish Parliament, which called for a "positive case to be made for EU membership in Scotland."

Recent polls have indicated the gap between those in Scotland wanting to Remain and those wanting to Leave is narrowing. This should act as a wake-up call to all those who favour our continued membership of the EU and the considerable benefits this brings.

As an organisation we will continue to sell an unremittingly positive message on the benefits our membership brings, and urge others to do likewise. We need to capture some of the energy that existed during the Scottish independence referendum and motivate people to turn out and vote for Europe.

Turnout will be key in this referendum and we know that currently those in favour of Brexit are more likely to vote. It is vital that all who support our continued membership of the EU, but especially young people for whom the outcome of the referendum will have a major impact, use their vote.

A vote to remain a member of the EU should not be taken for granted. Those in favour of our continued membership must not be complacent otherwise we could end up sleepwalking to Brexit.

The peace, stability and prosperity that the EU has brought to Scotland through our membership should be cherished. Over the next few months the European Movement in Scotland will continue to put forward an unashamedly positive case for our continued EU membership. We intend to do our best to ensure that everyone can see the ‘bigger picture’ of the advantages our membership brings.

IPPR report on EU migrants

Letter in the Herald Scotland from committee member Alex Orr.

26th March

It was good to see the latest IPPR report reinforce the fact that EU migrants to the UK are less likely to be receiving out-of-work payments, such as jobseekers allowance or disability and sickness benefits (25th March).

This nails the argument that somehow EU migrants are coming here to leach off our supposedly generous benefits system.

Indeed, unemployed Britons in the EU are drawing much more in benefits and allowances in wealthier EU countries that their nationals are claiming in the UK.

As an example, four times as many Britons claim unemployment benefits in Germany as Germans do in the UK, while the number of jobless Britons receiving benefits in Ireland exceeds their Irish counterparts in the UK by a rate of five to one.

Indeed, the figures for nationals in the ten Eastern European Union nations drawing jobseekers allowance in the UK indicates that there are only about 1,000 Romanians and 500 Bulgarians claiming such benefits, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Of those EU migrants living here a mere 1.2 per cent are not economically active, and according to University College London, between 2001 and 2011 EU migrants made a positive net contribution of £20 billion to the UK economy as they tend to be younger and more economically active than our own workforce, paying more in taxes and receiving less in benefits.

To argue, as those wanting the UK to leave the EU will do, that somehow these individuals are a drain on our society, when they enjoy a higher rate of employment and qualifications than our own workforce, is truly preposterous.

Given the considerable focus there is on EU migrants to the UK, what would be good to see is some analysis done on the almost equal number of those from the UK living in EU countries and what impact they have on their economies and societies.

Ming Campbell warns against complacency in Scottish campaign and makes call for repeat of energy of Indy Ref

March 15, 2016

Press release, taken up by The Courier, The Herald Scotland and Daily Business.

Lord Campbell (“Ming”) has warned Scots against complacency on the perceived certainty of a ‘Remain’ vote north of the border in the EU referendum, and that latest polls should act as ‘wake-up’ call for pro-EU campaigners.

Ming, who has been appointed by the European Movement in Scotland to lead the campaign north of the border to keep the UK in the EU, made the warning as recent polling indicates that less than 60 per cent back the case in Scotland for the UK to remain in the EU, the first poll to put support at less than 60 per cent.1

While 59 per cent in Scotland back continued membership of the EU, the figure for the UK as a whole shows the Remain and Leave camps neck and neck.

The former Liberal Democrat Leader has also highlighted concerns that those in favour of Brexit are more motivated to vote in the forthcoming referendum. He has called on a repeat of the energy that existed during the Scottish independence referendum, engaging and motivating all sections of society with ‘unremittingly positive’ messages to sell the considerable benefits of EU membership.

A recent ORB poll, analysed by electoral strategist, Sir Lynton Crosby, has found that without taking into account people’s likelihood to vote, the campaigns are virtually tied, with Remain on 47 per cent and Leave on 49 per cent.2

However, when likelihood to vote is taken into account, the Leave campaign would win on 52 per cent of the vote, with remain trailing on 45 per cent. Older people (65+), who are more likely to vote, are twice as likely to say leave rather than stay.

Ming has urged young people especially, who are most reluctant to vote but for whom the outcome of the referendum will have a major impact, to turnout on 23rd June. He also urged all political parties to ensure that membership of the EU is a key campaign issue in the run up to the Scottish Parliament elections.

Under the branding of ‘Europe – See the Bigger Picture, Vote Remain’, the campaign will aim to highlight the considerable benefits that Scotland in particular gains from membership of the EU in the run up to the June referendum.

Lord Campbell said:

“While Scotland is more pro-EU than the rest of the UK, recent polls have indicated the gap between those in Scotland wanting to Remain and those wanting to Leave is narrowing. This should act as wake-up call to all those who favour our continued membership of the EU and the considerable benefits this brings.

“We need to sell the positives of our membership and we need to capture some of the energy that existed during the Scottish independence referendum for the EU vote, motivating people to turnout. Turnout will be key in this referendum and we know that currently those in favour of Brexit are more likely to vote, a situation we must address. It is vital that young people especially use their vote.

“A vote to stay in the EU should not be taken for granted. Those in favour of our continued membership must not be complacent or we could end up sleepwalking to a Brexit.

“The peace, stability and prosperity that the EU has brought to Scotland through our membership is to be absolutely cherished. Over the next few months we will be putting forward an unremitting and unashamedly positive case for our continued EU membership, ensuring that everyone can see the ‘big picture’ of the advantages our membership brings.”

1 1000 people were interviewed by ICM between 26th February and 7th March

2 Daily Telegraph, EU referendum: Brexit campaign has the edge, 15th March 2016. Available from The Telegraph website. (Accessed 15th March 2016).

Sovereignty

4th March 2016

Letter in the Herald Scotland from committee member Alex Orr.

I am struck by the argument put forward by Jim Sillars (Agenda – 3rd March), that leaving the EU delivers what member status cannot, ‘real independence’ and the ‘unfettered ability to make our own laws’. He goes on to define this ‘independence’ as ‘sovereignty’.

Sovereignty is not like pregnancy, and it is not the case that a state is sovereign or not sovereign. It is of course a relative concept. Mr Sillar’s desire to refuse to pool sovereignty would in fact leave the UK with less sovereignty, as in an interconnected world it would have limited control over trading arrangements, pollution, the cleanliness of its seas, migration or terrorism.

The UK is already subject to some 700 international treaties and member of a number of international organisations. As a member of the UN, WTO, NATO and the IMF for example, we share our sovereignty, infringing on our national self-determination. But through this approach we have influence and maximise our effectiveness. Using Mr Sillar’s rationale, ‘real independence’ would see us withdraw from all these organisations, reflecting a sense of sovereignty that last existed in the 19th century, based on the principles of Westphalian sovereignty.

As a member of the European Economic Area, Norway for example is the 10th largest contributor to the EU budget and is bound by the rules of the single market without any say in the decision-making process.

Many ‘Brexiters’ see the Norwegian model as one they would like to go down, but Oslo has to adhere to all the EU’s product standards, financial regulations and employment regulations, enacting 75 per cent of EU legislative acts.

A UK choosing this track would, in other words, keep paying, accept rules from Brussels without having any influence on them, and would remain committed to the four freedoms, including free movement.

For those wanting true full sovereignty there is only one nation that I can think of that is truly sovereign, and that is North Korea.

Lord Wallace's speech in the House of Lords

Lord Wallace of Tankerness is Patron of the European Movement in Scotland as well as a member of the board of Britain Stronger in Europe and leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.

Following David Cameron’s announcement of the date of the referendum Lord Wallace told his fellow peers,

"I was delighted to hear the Prime Minister setting out, at long last, the strategic case for the United Kingdom continuing its membership of the European Union. It was very welcome, too, that the Prime Minister took the opportunity to knock on the head the fanciful idea that, in the event of an out vote, there could be a second renegotiation and a second referendum.

"The referendum vote in June will be of the utmost significance. It will not only settle Britain’s relations with Europe, but our place in the world. We very much believe that the United Kingdom will derive strength from being seen as a team player and engaged in international affairs.

"It is an illusion of sovereignty to suggest that, if we come out, we will somehow get sovereignty back. The United Kingdom is better when it is united with our colleagues in Europe. In an uncertain world of challenges and threats, I also believe that Europe is better and stronger for having the United Kingdom in it as a member state.

"Together, we will be a stronger and more prosperous nation, securing jobs and creating opportunity for our children and grandchildren. We have created together the world’s largest free trade area, we have delivered peace, and we have given the British people the opportunity to live, work and travel freely. History shows that Britain is better when it is united with our European partners.

"Together, we are stronger in the fight against the global problems that do not stop at borders. We can combat international crime, fight climate change, and together provide hope and opportunity for the future.

"It is worth reflecting for a moment on the creation of the European Union and its lasting legacy. After decades of brutal conflict on the continent, European nations came together in co-operation. To this day, neighbours and allies support each other in what remains the world’s most successful project in peace. We remain stronger together in continuing the fight against terrorists who despise our liberal and modern way of life."

Lord Wallace went on to ask the Leader of the House of Lords to repudiate "the alarmist comments made by her colleague, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when he said that remaining in the EU exposes Britain to a Paris-style terrorist attack. It is only by working in co-operation with our international friends and neighbours that we can combat such threats to our security.

"Britain is already stronger and better off trading and working with Europe. We are part of the world’s largest single market, allowing British businesses to grow and prosper. Our people have more opportunities to work, travel and learn than ever before. Staying in the EU gives our children and grandchildren greater prospects, and the best chance to succeed.

"This country’s place in the world depends on our getting on well with our neighbours, who share our values and interests. This referendum is about the kind of country we want to leave to our children and grandchildren, and about how we think of ourselves as a country.

"Issues such as climate change and the natural environment are better tackled when we come together to think about the world we want to leave to future generations.

"This is, indeed, a once-in-a-generation decision. There is only one opportunity to show that the United Kingdom is not a country that is isolated and sidelined but one that is open, outward-facing and proud of its place in the international community.

"An out vote means taking the United Kingdom back and an in vote means taking the United Kingdom forward."

Fraser of Allander Institute warns of dangers of Brexit

Press release 3rd March

Commenting on the report from the Fraser of Allander Institute that warns that "it is difficult to imagine that Brexit would help improve Scotland’s competitive position with respect to our trade with the EU", Derek Hammersley, Chair of the European Movement in Scotland said:

"With more than 40 per cent of our international exports destined for the European Union, and over 330,000 Scottish jobs dependent on these exports, we too share the concerns of the Fraser of Allander Institute that 'it is difficult to see how any post BREXIT trading relationship with the EU would be better than current arrangements.'

"The EU single market of over 500 million people has brought considerable benefits to the Scottish economy, providing freedom of movement of goods, capital, services and people across the continent.

"The additional hurdle of less favourable trading arrangements through BREXIT, as well as potentially worsening Scottish productivity growth particularly via the negative effects on trade, inward investment and financial integration, should be something Scottish voters are aware of as they go to the polls on 23rd June.”

Full copy of Fraser of Allander Press Release here.

Response to Nicola Sturgeon's speech

2nd March 2016

The following letter from the chairman appeared in The Herald, The National, The Press and Journal and The Scotsman.

As Scotland’s oldest dedicated pro-European campaigning organisation, at the forefront of the fight to keep us in the EU, we welcome the decision by the SNP to commit to presenting a positive case for continued EU membership (1st March). Like the SNP we too will be putting forward the positive case for our continued EU membership and call on all political parties in Scotland and the rest of the UK to do likewise.

The benefits of our EU membership are extensive, and need to be set out for the citizens of Scotland. In this context we are delighted that Nicola Sturgeon emphasises that the EU is not just about the financial benefits and jobs that accrue as a result of our membership.

She points out the social protections the EU has established: the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of age, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity; maternity and parental leave entitlement; the right to paid holidays; and the right to work for no more than 48 hours each week.

The EU single market enables a broadening of individuals’ experiences and increases our lifetime potential as human beings. It allows us to travel, live, work and study within the EU with equal rights. Consumers also benefit from access to the wider range of products available, which they can also safely buy online with equal protection across the EU, while greater competition between suppliers helps keep prices down ensuring best value for money.

The peace, stability and prosperity that the EU has brought to Scotland through our membership is not there to be thrown away lightly and we applaud Ms Sturgeon’s desire to promote the positives.

Migration goes in both directions

Letter 19th February 2016

The following letter from committee member Alex Orr appeared in The Guardian.

We again witness headlines in some sections of the media lamenting the fact that the number of EU workers in Britain grew by 200,000 in 2015 and now stands at 2.1 million (Report, 18 February). However, what is forgotten is that other group going to live in other EU countries and “taking jobs” – the 2.2 million UK citizens living and working in the rest of the EU. With 309,000 living in Spain, for example, largely elderly, one can only imagine the burden these individuals are on services in that country. Thankfully those coming to the UK from the EU are young and economically active. Indeed, of those from the rest of the EU living here, a mere 1.2% are not economically active, a miniscule number. According to University College London, between 2001 and 2011, EU migrants made an estimated positive net contribution of £20bn to the UK economy because they tend to be younger and more economically active than our own workforce, paying more in taxes and receiving less in benefits. Over 85% do not claim in-work benefits, which rather undermines Mr Cameron’s attempts to limit migration from the EU by curtailing benefits. Those coming from the rest of the EU do not come to the UK to claim benefits, they come here to work. They make an overwhelmingly positive contribution economically, socially and culturally. It would be interesting to see a cost-benefit analysis done of the impact on those countries of the Brits living there.

Lord Campbell on BBC Radio 4

January 2016

Our President, (Menzies Campbell) with Jack Montgomery, Scottish spokesperson for Leave.EU on the current reform deal, trade and the timing of the referendum.

Listen in here.

A perspective on benefits

Letter 15th January 2016

The following letter appeared in The Herald, The Scotsman and The Independent.

You can also download this as a pdf here.

Much of the debate about the current EU renegotiation by the Prime Minister has focused on restricting access to benefits for those from other European Union countries coming to the UK.

Some perspective is needed on this. What tends to be forgotten is that there are c 2.2 million UK citizens living and working in the rest of the EU with, for example, just over 1 million British people living in Spain and 329,000 in Ireland.

Indeed, unemployed Britons in the EU are drawing much more in benefits and allowances in wealthier EU countries than their nationals are claiming in the UK. For example, four times as many Britons obtain unemployment benefits in Germany as Germans do in the UK, while the number of jobless Britons receiving benefits in Ireland exceeds their Irish counterparts in the UK by a rate of five to one.

Contrary to popular perceptions, the figures for nationals of those 10 east European countries drawing jobseeker’s allowance in the UK remain modest, despite the periodical outcries about “benefits tourism”. There are only about 1,000 Romanians and 500 Bulgarians, for example, drawing jobseeker’s allowance in Britain, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Of those EU migrants living here a mere 1.2% are not economically active, amounting to a miniscule number. According to University College London, between 2001 and 2011, EU migrants made an estimated positive net contribution of £20 billion to the UK economy as they tend to be younger and more economically-active than our own workforce, paying more in taxes and receiving less in benefits.

Those from the EU who have made the UK their home make an overwhelmingly positive contribution economically, socially and culturally and it is good to sometimes highlight the facts as well as remembering those UK citizens who live in other EU countries.

Britain Stronger in Europe

Press release, 11th January 2016

"We are delighted to see the launch of Britain Stronger in Europe in Scotland and look forward to work with them on promoting the positive case for our continued membership of the EU.

"The EU Single Market of 500 million people, the largest single market in the world, is vital for businesses, with over 330,000 Scottish jobs dependent on our exports to the EU. It also allows the freedom to travel, study and work across the EU, bringing many benefits to Scotland.

"Fighting climate change, negotiating trade deals and combatting crime and climate change are also more effective when we work together, with powerful weapons like the European Arrest Warrant to pursue criminals across borders.

"The EU has also provided important social protections for workers in Scotland and across the continent, be it the 48-hour minimum working week or minimum-paid annual leave.

"The peace, stability and prosperity that the EU has brought to Scotland through our membership is to be absolutely cherished and we will unashamedly continue to make the positive case for our continued membership of the EU."