Britain’s relations with the EU positive: report


Britain's relations with the EU are broadly working well in key areas, a government review said yesterday (13 February) in findings out of step with Prime Minister David Cameron's calls for radical EU reform.

The review collected more than 600 opinions including those of companies, business organisations, think-tanks and local councils, and found Britain broadly benefited from being a member of the EU's single market.

"The majority of respondents ... felt that, on balance, EU action was beneficial to the UK's national interest," said the report on free movement of goods within the single market, one of eight published on Thursday.

Cameron has tried to quell the eurosceptic wing of his ruling Conservative Party by promising to try to renegotiate Britain's ties with the EU if re-elected in 2015, before giving Britons an in-or-out EU membership referendum.

He has not yet detailed what he would change but has made clear he wants to amend the EU's freedom of movement rules to stop people moving countries to claim welfare benefits.

Cutting EU red tape, improving competition and protecting Britain's financial sector are also priorities.

Not as critical

The review - part of a larger civil service investigation into how the EU affects British life in 32 areas from health and education to the economy, tax and immigration - did not find respondents as critical of those sectors as some politicians.

"They felt that the advantages of European action ... outweighed the costs arising from administrative burdens, regulatory costs or policy trade-offs," the report said.

The government published an initial batch of findings last summer that concluded the economic benefits of Britain's EU membership outweighed the loss of independence on policy.

The Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in Britain's coalition government, accused Cameron's Conservatives of giving the reports a low-key publication because they did not fit their views. The reports were simply posted on the government website.

"They are a factually accurate look at the relationship between Britain and Europe and as such they don't paint Europe to be the monster that many on the Conservative backbenchers perceive it to be," said a senior Liberal Democrat source who asked not to be named.

The review found some respondents felt Brussels should be less heavy handed in some areas, such as transport or the environment, while others argued the importance of trade within the EU had diminished in comparison to other global markets.

The complexity of EU programmes in areas such as research and development were also criticised as off-putting, particularly to small businesses.

The government is due to publish another 18 reports before the end of the year.

  • 22-25 May 2014: European elections
  • 1 Nov. 2014: Newly constituted European Commission takes office
  • 2015: British elections
  • 2017: Possible referendum in the UK on EU membership


Sue's picture

It was not an unbiased, independent review:

From Conservativehome

"What might have started life as an interesting exercise now seems to have been hi-jacked. Reading the reports, one is struck by the number of citations from organisations that are broadly content with the current status quo in Britain’s EU membership, while groups that could be described as “centre-right” – e.g. Policy Exchange, Civitas, the TaxPayers’ Alliance – are quoted sparingly (if at all) in certain reports, and their testimonies often casually dismissed in the report as the views of ‘lobby groups’"

Which STILL does not address the main reason for a UK exit... we want our country back. We don't want to be governed by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. We want a return to democracy!

Richard's picture

Even if it is "broadly beneficial" that does not mean that the EU-UK arrangement is ideal.

Something that is "broadly beneficial" invriably means, it is is need of improvements.

"on balance, EU action was beneficial to the UK's national interest"

In England we call this "damning with faint praise"

Fritz's picture

@Sue: "...we want our country back. We don't want to be governed by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. We want a return to democracy!"

Do you ELECT your bureaucrat in the UK?

All major decisions in the EU are decided
a) in the council (countries)
b) in the parliament (people)

Have a look at the Congress in the US. They also have a two-chamber parliament with representatives of the (US-)states and the people.


Sue's picture


Whatever we have in the UK is NOT democracy. The three major parties may as well be one giant one. They are all pro-EU and all promise changes before an election. Once they're in power, these promises are dismissed.

Representative democracy no longer works when your chosen MP/MEP ignores you and does what his party leader orders him to.

In a democracy, power lies with the people. In the EU, power is held by corporations, lobbyists, bankers and a vast army of nagging, statist office workers. Parasites, who produce nothing, create nothing and live a high old life from the proceeds of other people's efforts. The only way to justify their existences is to continually make new laws and directives, each one, adding to the misery of ordinary everyday people who just want to live their lives without interference from others.

I won't even mention the money that has been embezzled from European taxpayers, strange that the EU did not include itself in that report.

The fact that stealing savers money from their bank accounts is being considered to save the Euro, shows how corrupt this organisation has become. Hitler would have been proud!

"The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse". -Edmund Burke

Tom's picture

I do understand Brittish People would like to leave, it is going to be happend I am pretty sure.. I have no problem with this.. but Eu. is still democratic community. If you want to leave, you can.. but say it is not democratic is not true. You dont have to do that.. just say.. You want to be out of Eu. for you and all your nation has nothing to do with the continent.. you make decision over your nation and their children.. never forget.. you can go on holiday to USA well, if you have money enough.. but lots of British people go to Spain, well, might will be more expensive and prepair visa and permession and proof have enough money on bank account, and health injurance.. etc.. when less tourists comes, and export fail.. it is your choice, noone has right to make this decision intead of British people.. but just say.. we are far too far from your culture, or simple you dislike this relationship, but saying Eu. is undemocratic.. is not true.. I am European, and I live in democracy.. Which party in Parliament we choose, in USA is the same.. nobody would say that is undemocratic.. and that UNIO is same over ruled as EU. not all states benefit from membership however they pay states are already bankrupted.. in Eu. we wont do, because many countries always would live for free and other people would pay their dept.. UK hasnt needed to apply for bail out, what is your problem? Greece? we could speak about thta a lot, why they got in trouble.. see, Serbia, Ukrain, many countries out of Eu. in crises.. and Asutrialia is getting slow, dept gets higher, Russia is the same.. they are not members of Eu. all countries must do reforms.. becuse the world has been changing.. finantial enviriment has been changing.. desperated people always turn to populism I do understand this this is how far right party got Hungarian parlaiment.. it is normal, but now they are getting weeker as crises gets disappear in the country.. if someone is desperated never listen to.. just want everything differently.. if it was blue, want it to be white.. it is normal.. I red an interesting article where reasercher said.. the most dangerous countris like, France, Germany, Australia, Canada which can couse next crises and of course Great Brittan.. I dont know it is true or not.. but Central-Europe is stabil, this is why far-right parties are not dangeor is this countries however when crises started they were dangerous in in thsese countries, that time we said, in all countries will happend the same, in week once happens sooner, richers happens later.. this is the situation now. Far-right dangour is over in East-Europe, now West- and North-Europe in dangour because these countries richer need longer time while crises really reach them and they turn to radical views.. as in East-Europe it is fine now, will be the same everywhere.. need a bit time..

Nobody have to agree with me, even not expecting any comments on it, only one things.. just read it, think a bit, and if not agreed, it is your choice in 4 years lets see what heppens,, :)

and of course in Eu. We do respect decesion of the UK. County has all right to leave by Referndum it is the most important part of democracy. In communinsm you could not do this, even writing things like this.. It is a democratic UNIO where you can leave if you want, there is exit option in Lisbon Treaty. Join democratic way, leave democratic way.. as the UK has already had Referndum on Eu.'s member ship, it will have the second one. It is democratic community.

Not necessary to agree with me.