The words “Brexit”, “remain ” and “leave” are perhaps the most written and repeated these days in the countdown to the referendum on 23th June.
Immigration, workers’ rights or the impact over the economy are some of the hot topics of the debate. Has the EU forced the UK to bring more rights to British workers? What are the benefits of being part of the European club? How can Brexit affect UK’s commercial balance?
Here there are some charts that explore key issues of the relationship between the UK and the EU.
1. Border controls
One of the strongest arguments of the leaving campaign is to regain the control over the borders. The Schengen Agreement abolished the EU’s internal borders enabling passport-free movement across the countries who joined the agreement.
The UK has adopted the Schengen Information System (SIS) which allows the Government to exchange information with Schengen countries for security reasons.
The UK, however, is not part of the Schengen passport-free area and it can still check people coming from the rest of the EU. But checking doesn’t mean to control and the UK must admit EU citizens, who can work, study and live freely here without the need of a VISA.
In the last years, the economic crisis in Europe, especially in the south, has increased the number of EU migrants, a situation that is out of control according to Brexit supporters.
At the end of 2015, the number of citizens with an EU passport who entered into the UK were almost the same as non-EU citizens.
2. Maternity and paternity leave
The EU has passed several laws to ensure that workers from different countries have the same rights. The Labour Party points out that outside the European Union British workers will be more vulnerable.
The EU safeguards workers’ rights. If we left, they’d be in the Tories’ hands. Don’t let that happen. #ITVEURef pic.twitter.com/OPvlIIR29n
— LabourInForBritain (@UKLabourIN) 9 June 2016
Nevertheless some benefits of the UK legislation are above the EU recommendations as for instance the Maternity Leave.
In the case of the Paternity Leave – leave from work for fathers – the European Union hasn’t any minimum standard and so every state decides. In the UK, the law establishes 1 or 2 weeks of paid Paternity Leave.
3. Paid holidays
The right to paid holidays was a huge improvement for workers. The EU has regulations on the minimum number of days a worker can go on holidays but, as with the Maternity Leave, the UK legislation is more generous:
4. Exports and imports
The risks for UK’s economy is one of the key issues of the discussion. Brexit supporters claim that outside the EU the UK would close more beneficial trade agreements with other countries and, specifically, they mention the United States.
Brexit opposition, on the other hand, remarks the importance of the comercial relationship with the continent. In 2014 the UK sold to the European Union around £227 billion – almost half of its exports – and bought goods worth £288 billion. The Brexit would require to renegotiate the existing trade agreements.
5. Roaming prices
One of the great achievements of the EU is the reduction of the roaming prices to the extent that in 2017 will cost the same to call at home than in any other EU country.
The Brexit doesn’t necessarily jeopardize this agreement, but it could have an influence over the prices because companies won’t be forced to maintain the prices established by the EU.
The EU Referendum has brought into the discussion a lot of issues that were not part of agenda. Whatever option will win, one thing seems to be clear: the relationships between the UK and the EU will be different from 24th of June onwards.
Image by Jeff Djevdet. You can find the image at Flickr.