The EU Referendum – The radical case to remain in Europe

The EU Referendum – The radical case to remain in Europe

Type: Campaign briefings
Date: 28 April 2016
Campaigns: General

The choice in front of us on 23 June can feel uninspiring. Voting to remain in the EU aligns with big business and elite interests, while voting to leave aligns with the interests of racists, xenophobes and fundamentalist free-marketeers.

Global Justice Now, having consulted with members and supporters, has decided to support continued EU membership. We reject the argument that justice is best achieved by isolating ourselves from our European neighbours. We also believe that some of the benefits of the EU, such as free movement of labour, human rights and environmental safeguards, are worth defending.

This is not an endorsement of the status quo. We believe that this referendum is an opportunity to argue for a very different EU. From the imposition of oppressive austerity on the people of southern Europe to the undemocratic technocracy of the unelected European Commission, it is clear to us that the EU is broken. But we also believe that we need to stay in the EU to change this, campaigning in solidarity with others across the continent.

This briefing outlines our stance on some of the big issues related to the EU referendum and discusses how being in the EU is vital to our campaigns.

While many groups and commentators have articulated the ‘stay’ position by focussing narrowly on what they see as being the economic and security benefits of EU membership, the Global Justice Now briefing instead describes a vision of tackling inequality, climate change and austerity by working with groups, social movements and progressive politicians from across the continent.

The briefing also looks at how the UK has played a destructive role in pushing the EU towards more unjust and ineffective policies on issues like tax avoidance and migration, and has been key in pushing for the controversial free trade deal between the EU and the USA that has often been cited as a reason to vote ‘leave.’

It argues that the main reasons for staying are:

  • We can only change it if we’re in it. The EU is in dire need of reform and more democracy. We can only fight for this if we remain in the EU. Outside, we will become irrelevant to the growing movement for radical change.
  • It has brought us peace, better regulation and workers’ rights. Before we joined the EU, the UK was the ‘dirty man of Europe’ with few environmental regulations. Many workers had no legal right to annual holidays or lunch breaks.
  • It is the best place to fight global problems like climate change. No single country can effectively deal with problems like tax avoidance, climate change or the so-called migrant crisis. These are problems that require countries to work together. Outside the EU, the UK would more likely undercut these efforts than help.
  • It will be harder to win progressive campaigns outside the EU. From food speculation to TTIP and migrant rights, we will find it much harder to secure change outside the EU. The UK government is too often the biggest cheerleader for deregulation and big business in Europe.
  • In Europe, we are part of a bigger movement. We are part of a number of networks and alliances across Europe. On TTIP, we were a key part of the EU-wide petition that got 3.3 million signatures.

Photo: Flickr/William Murphy

Promoted by Nick Dearden on behalf of Global Justice Now, both of Global Justice Now, of 66 Offley Rd, London.

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