Roger Arthur: Break the chains and stop ever-closer union

Just before the European elections we saw a County Times article, suggesting that many jobs in Sussex rely on trading links with Europe. Of course they do, just as jobs in Switzerland, Norway, the US or China depend on trading links.

Monday, 16th February 2015, 5:00 am

Sadly the article failed to mention that many countries trade successfully via World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, without political union and the important question is where are the best export markets for the future?

Well, in 1980 the EU’s share of world GDP was around 31 per cent but fell to around 18 per cent in 2014 and according to Citibank, is likely to fall to around seven per cent by 2050.

This is due to the inflexible and bureaucratic nature of the EU, along with the one size fits all currency, which slows business and reduces competitiveness. So we need to look increasingly to markets beyond the EU.

When the Swiss reviewed their position in 2006, they concluded in that full EU membership would have cost them many times the value of their bilateral agreements and they did not join.

The fact is that EU countries need the UK more than we need them, because they export around £50 billion pa net to us and they would not want that to stop, if we moved to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Indeed, when the USSR broke up in 1991, new trade agreements were established within a matter of weeks.

But you ask, wouldn’t we have less influence outside of the EU? Well the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade receives many comments from countries such as New Zealand, Malaysia, Japan, Switzerland and even Cuba, whereas EU countries get no mention - because the EU decides what is good for us.

Yes Brussels second-guesses our needs on many of the key UN “Codex” committees and we have limited opportunity to influence proposed rule changes.

Indeed, since the vast majority of UK companies don’t even sell to the single market, we might ask why they must comply with EU regulations. If they weren’t so constrained, our entrepreneurs could generate more jobs.

Why for example should Dyson not produce high capacity vacuum cleaners for countries outside of the EU, bearing in mind that power limits do not mean that fewer kWhrs will be used?

It is of course not just the number of regulations, but the cost of complying with them, that is at issue. Green targets alone have raised the cost of electricity to such an extent that energy intensive businesses have moved to countries where CO2 emissions are higher per kWhr consumed, thereby raising global emissions.

Now 79 per cent of UK businesses believe that the level of regulation is harming our economy (Daily Telegraph) and we need to be free to exploit every advantage that we have, going out into the World and competing with the best.

Once we have moved to a Free Trade Agreement, then Britain’s influence and export performance will improve. But sadly the EU will not negotiate on that red line, any more than they would on border controls - because they are bent on ever-closer union.

It is also clear from French and Irish experiences that the EU is likely to ask us to vote again, if it does not like the result of our EU referendum.

But the EU elections made clear that the British people do not want ever-closer union. So, to break the chains that are holding us back and to arrest our slide towards ever closer union, we will need to repeal the 1972 EC Act. No ifs, no buts.

Roger Arthur is UKIP’s Horsham parliamentary candidate and district councillor for Chanctonbury.