The European Union...all there is to know!
First, a little fun...who can assemble this puzzle the quickest?
....and how about some games too?
Why does the EU exist?
- Maintain and build on the peace established between its Member States
- Bring European countries together in practical cooperation
- Ensure that European citizens can live in security
- Promote economic and social solidarity
- Preserve European identity and diversity in a globalised world
- Promulgate the values that Europeans share.
...and now some great basic facts....
The Business BENEFITS of being in the EU...
By being a Member State of the European Union the United Kingdom is part of the world’s largest single market – an economic zone larger than that of the USA and Japan combined with a total GDP of around £11 trillion. This single market of 500 million people provides a relatively level playing for British business to trade in. This enables not just free trade in terms of the absence of customs duties or tariffs but a common set of rules so that business does not have to comply with 27 different sets of regulations.
A European Commission study of the single market in 2007 found that the EU GDP was raised by 2.2 per cent (€233 billion) and 2.75 million jobs were created between the introduction of the single market in 1992 and 2006. For the UK, that increase in GDP would have been around £25 billion. The Government’s Department of Business, Innovation & Skills estimates that EU Member States trade twice as much with each other as a result of the single market – which they estimate has meant that increased trade within the EU since the 1980s could have been worth around six per cent higher income per capita in the UK. Exports to other EU countries account for 51 per cent of the UK’s exports of goods and services, worth £200 billion; trade with the US, by contrast, constitutes 13 per cent of UK exports.
The Business Department in the UK estimates that 3.5 million jobs in Britain are linked, directly or indirectly, to the UK’s trade with other Member States.
A key driver of global economic prosperity since the war has been the gradual reduction in tariff barriers as a result of successive rounds of world trade negotiations. The UK, traditionally an open, free trade economy, has benefited from the fact that the EU negotiates on behalf of the world’s largest single market – giving us far greater clout in such talks than we would have as an individual nation.
The single market has brought an end to many of the non-tariff barriers to trade that used to exist in Europe. For example, until a ruling of the European Court of Justice in 1987 the rules on the purity of beer in Germany made it difficult for beer producers in other Member States to export their product to one of Europe’s biggest beer markets. The German beer purity laws were overturned by the Court’s decision because they were a restriction on trade incompatible with EU law. Similarly, the French ban on the import of British beef was overturned by the Court of Justice because it was contrary to EU rules. Australia and the US are two countries that continue to ban the import of British beef despite the original reason for the ban in 1996 (BSE) long having ceased to be a problem but there is no effective means to challenge those bans.
Another significant benefit to the UK from EU membership is the foreign direct investment (FDI) we receive – that is, investment in our economy from non-UK sources. Companies often locate in the UK precisely because we are inside the single market – for example, Nissan’s factory in Sunderland exports to the rest of the EU. FDI has risen considerably across the world since the 1970s. The UK continues to receive a large share of world FDI, despite the global financial crisis.
While it is sometimes controversial the right of free movement for EU citizens (see below) is valuable for employers as it enables them to recruit from a far wider pool. British employers have made extensive use of this access to a larger potential workforce in order to tackle some of the UK’s skill shortages.
The most obvious benefit to individuals is the freedom to travel, live, work, study and retire anywhere in the EU (this also applies to other EEA states). No EU citizen needs a visa to visit another EU country for up to three months. You can stay longer than that provide you register with the host country, have sufficient means to sustain yourself (or a job or course of study) and health insurance (the latter may be available by paying into a state insurance scheme). Roughly 1.6 million British citizens live in the EU outside the UK. After living in another EU country for five years you have the same rights as its own citizens.
The Community trade mark and the registration of industrial designs are two ways EU law has made life less bureaucratic for business and protected intellectual property. EU businesses can register a trade mark or an industrial design once and have it recognised in all 27 Member States.
Lower telecoms costs (see below) are of great benefit to business as well as to individuals. Energy costs are a big issue for some business sectors and EU competition rules have helped to keep them down; the establishment of the EU’s single market in energy in 2014 should act as a further brake on energy prices.
Telecommunications were one of the first areas of EU economic activity to be liberalised. National monopolies were abolished between 1988 and 1998 for fixed line services, leading to a fall in the price of phone calls and internet, as well as more choice of equipment and providers. Since 2000, the cost of a 10-minute call has fallen by an average of 74 per cent in the EU.
Travelling and working abroad in the EU has been facilitated by the introduction of the European driving licence, with common rules on the requirements of driving tests and minimum standards of fitness to drive. This has improved road safety and made it easier to drive across international borders.
The Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) are a planned set of road, rail, air and water transport networks in Europe. Additional benefits include...
- Economic and social integration
- Free movement of people, goods and services
- Development in less favoured regions
- Limiting environmental impacts
- Contacts with neighbouring countries
- Competitive energy production and supply
- Renewable energy production
- Efficient and secure energy supply
The deregulation of air travel across the EU has been one of the most noticeable benefits of the single market to consumers. The number of airline routes in the EU has dramatically expanded, low cost carriers have come into the market, enabling people to travel at lower prices and there is competition on key air routes. Deregulation has been balanced with measures to protect EU citizens against unfair practices – such as the 2005 air passenger rights which provide some protection for passengers whose flight is cancelled or who are denied boarding and the 2008 law requiring quoted fares to be all inclusive without extra charges being added when you come to pay.
British shoppers are now free to shop in any Member State without being charged customs or excise duties on goods for their personal use when they return home. Consumers have the same rights when shopping as they do when at home and the European small claims procedure makes it feasible for people to make a claim for up to €2000 if necessary. Rules are now in place to protect consumers against car price cartels, which artificially inflated the prices of both cars and car parts in Europe. For example, cars can be imported from other EU countries to take advantage of lower prices on the continent.
EU toy standards mean that parents can buy toys marked with CE symbol and be confident that the toy meets the basic standards of toy safety agreed across the EU. EU food labelling rules similarly provide consumer protection as they require all ingredients to be listed and potential allergens identified.
Contributing to setting up an energy market providing citizens and business with affordable energy, competitive prices and technologically advanced energy services.
Promoting sustainable energy production, transport and consumption in line with the EU 2020 targets and with a view to the 2050 decarbonisation objective.
EU Competition Law is designed to ensure fair and equal conditions for businesses, while leaving space for innovation, unified standards, and the development of small businesses.
EU competition law has been of great importance in opening up previously closed markets to new entrants, enabling British companies to expand on the continent. It has also enabled market monopolies to be tackled in a way not seen before in Europe – such as the Commission’s action against Microsoft.