In my last post Rosaria Williams asked in her comment, what the disadvantages were for Britain not being in the EU. That is a question that will be dominating UK politics from now until the promised referendum is held -- by 2017 at the latest.
I fervently hope that this country decides to stay part of the European Union. But I can understand why more and more people now have a negative attitude to our membership. First there were the annoying rules from Brussels that seem to most of us to be ridiculous -- from the curves in bananas and cucumbers to how food must be labelled. Why were certain countries allowed to become members when they did not meet the financial criteria that were supposedly required for membership. (France did not meet the financial criteria and it was one of the original members!)
When a country joins the EU they join as an equal member -- with the same rights and privileges as every other member state. And part of the equality is that its citizens are allowed to travel and settle in any other member state. Many people in Britain and in other of the wealthier countries are very unhappy with number of immigrants that are now here quite legally -- because there is work and because there have been very generous benefits given by the State.
The Man and I have several Polish friends who have very freely admitted that the reason they have come to Britain is because "of the benefits"! But now that they are losing many of those benefits, they are busy getting themselves second and third jobs -- jobs that are all low paying -- wives are no longer staying at home, teenagers are finding work after school and on weekends. Every foreign worker that I have met is contributing to the economy, many with jobs that no Brit can be found to do.
Two of my sons have had jobs in the EU -- one now in Italy and the other a few summers ago, in France. The Man and I can visit our vacation home in France as often and for as long as we like. We can travel throughout the EU freely, buy goods and bring them home pretty much without restriction. We even have a medical card which gives us the right to receive the same care as each state provides its own citizens.
But the most important disadvantage to Britain not being in the EU is 'commitment' to Europe. By being part of the Union we are giving substance to the belief that we are part of Europe and that we can find ways of working together to solve problems and find solutions -- both economic and social. Seventy years ago we began the process of ending our mutual history of being one of many warring European nations. The EU has been part of that process and Britain was slow to become part of it. To quit now seems to me a backward step and one made out of fear -- to the detriment not only to Europe, but especially to this country.