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This is a question The EU

Why not have a question about the EU referendum? asks Spanishfly. Rather than something you have done or experienced. Let's hear how you think leaving the EU will affect you.

(, Mon 27 Jun 2016, 13:44)
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I'm British, but I live in Belgium and have done for 20 years. I decided to move to Belgium because I liked the idea of being on the continent, of being closer to the heart of Europe, of my children growing up bilingual, of having friends, neighbours and colleagues with open, European views. And I was looking forward to better cheese, bread, beer, chocolates, etc.

All of these things have come to pass. Because of freedom of movement I and my wife had no problem getting jobs, renting and then buying a house, etc. Because of reciprocal benefits arrangements I can get child benefit, health insurance, social security, etc. without any issues. My wife even managed to get a job working for the Belgian government, because a couple of years ago they chose to open up even these protected positions to EU nationals. My kids have had the choice of university in whatever EU country the want, and have been able to fulfill their personal dreams of playing sport at national level for Belgium, joining the Belgian Air Cadets as a precursor to joining the RAF, etc. All because of being part of the EU.

Now the background to pretty much all the decisions I've made in the last 20 years or so, related to employment, family, my personal finances, etc., has changed. I couldn't vote in the referendum because I've been out of the UK for more than 15 years, and the Leave decision means that most of the things I wanted out of moving to Belgium are threatened. My kids are multilingual, but without freedom of movement for Brits within the EU they won't have the same opportunities for studying, working and living in whatever country they would like. My & my wife's ability to keep working here under the same conditions is not clear at all, as we don't know what position the UK government will be able to negotiate (or even what they want to negotiate).

I believe strongly in the idea of the EU. I think all EU countries benefit because of the single market. The free movement of goods, services, capital and resources makes sense, indeed is probably a requirement, to make the single market work efficiently. Given the transnational nature of the majority of threats to Britain (terrorism, environment, cyber & other crime, financial issues, coping with migration, etc.) it makes sense to me that closer integration with our trading partners and neighbours is essential to respond to those threats. And when you look at the laws which the UK enacts based on EU law, the vast majority of these are either implementing international agreements (such as climate change agreements) or are related to making free trade work efficiently (common standards for products and services, common rules for business and consumer protection, etc.) or based on a shared belief in e.g. employment protection, equal opportunities, etc. So for all the talk of losing sovereignty, I have yet to hear which of these laws would be repealed once Britain leaves the EU.

I prefer Belgium to Britain today. For that reason, and to ensure that I and my family can continue to benefit from being in the EU, we have all applied for Belgian citizenship, so we will soon hold dual nationality. Of course Britain will still be a great nation after all the untangling is complete, but it will be a lesser nation than it could have been, and this decision will also have reduced the potential of the rest of the EU, and probably global growth. I'm shocked, sickened and worried by the way the campaigns were conducted, by the outcome, and by the political mess the country's in. I don't recognise the Britain that I used to live in, or even the Britain that I visited just a few months ago.

Sorry, was this supposed to be a funny story? I guess if I'd thought about it I could have made a tortured analogy to the Trade Federation in Star Wars but to be honest I can't be arsed.
(, Tue 28 Jun 2016, 15:18, 45 replies)
I agree,
but I do wonder why, after 20 years, you wouldn't have applied for dual citizenship already? I've got a friend who moved to Germany about 15 years ago, who was adamant that he wasn't going apply for dual nationality. I really hope he saw sense and has it sorted before Article 50 is invoked.
(, Tue 28 Jun 2016, 16:22, closed)
Because I didn't need to, because of Freedom of Movement, because of EU...

(, Tue 28 Jun 2016, 19:16, closed)
this to win
(, Tue 28 Jun 2016, 17:31, closed)
I couldn't have put it better myself.

(, Tue 28 Jun 2016, 19:38, closed)
Still, at least we can send all the darkies back now, eh?

(, Tue 28 Jun 2016, 19:51, closed)
I'm in the same boat as you, and have the completely opposite sentiment
We had freedom of movement before the EU, back when it was just the EEC. Considering the importance of trade between the 27 states and the UK, we will continue to have trade and free movement after Brexit; not doing so would only plunge both states into an economic crisis neither can't afford.

Norway is out of the EU, Iceland is out, Switzerland is out; yet all of them have trade, all have free movement, all contribute to the ERASMUS program to allow your kids to study in other countries. Considering Britan was the EU's second largest economy, and fifth globally, even Junker isn't idiotic enough to try to cut Britain off like that, unless he wants EU exports to drop by 90billion EUR overnight.

The negative stuff you hear in the newspapers is no different to the anti-EU spiel they've been selling for decades. Doom, gloom, death, tragedy; fear sells, and the newspapers are having a field day. If you think Brexit is a sign of complete social collapse and the forced relocation of millions of Poles and Britons in both directions, you're an even bigger moron than the people who voted for brexit for immigration reasons in the first place.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 6:24, closed)
Even Juncker isn't idiotic enough.....
I'm not so sure. I think the guy is a closet lunatic.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 7:20, closed)
same, but there's tempering force of Merkel underneath him
who won't let her country's exports be threatened unduly, especially when it's already shoring up the rest of the EU enough already.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 7:24, closed)
Juncker is a reputed alcoholic
He starts at breakfast time and he's often been spotted pissed by lunchtime. I don't suppose it helps that his dad was a Nazi and that he had to leave his last job because of few "legal" problems.

I would ignore anything being said for the next couple of weeks, they have to keep grandstanding for a while to make sure others don't want to leave and then a deal will start to emerge.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 8:14, closed)
Clearly untrue...
Our lizard overlords have no tolerance for alcohol.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 11:35, closed)
He's not the lizard
Tusk is, he is the real power. Ignore anything Juncker says or does, he's just there for comedy effect
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 13:09, closed)
Neither of them are the real power....
... the EU is effectively ruled by the leaders of 28 countries. Their PM's chancellors and foreign secretaries. That's who decide on anything that isn't the standard voltage of a electric toothbrush or the lowering of roaming charges on your mobile.

So if the UK ends up with a Norwegian deal they have effectively removed Cameron and Osbourne (and their predecessors) from this table while still paying the fees for access to the common market. Well done.
(, Tue 5 Jul 2016, 8:13, closed)
that's a pretty transparent closet

(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 12:03, closed)
"Norway is out of the EU, Iceland is out, Switzerland is out; yet all of them have trade, all have free movement, all contribute to the ERASMUS program to allow your kids to study in other countries. Considering Britan was the EU's second largest economy, and fifth globally, even Junker isn't idiotic enough to try to cut Britain off like that, unless he wants EU exports to drop by 90billion EUR overnight."

I can't disagree with this. And I'm pretty sure Britain will end up with a deal that puts them in such a position: access to single market, Erasmus, etc. but which requires UK to allow free movement, and possibly asks UK to pay for the privilege, and requires UK to implement at least trade laws. All of this without a say in how the EU is run, or how those laws are put together. That might be the best outcome for the country, but is it really what Leave campaigners wanted, and is it really an improvement on the position when in the EU?

And while I'm back here, what message does it send to the world right now to say "Sod you, we're leaving"? The message is clearly that UK wants to reduce cooperation with international partners. Of course it will maintain diplomatic relations with all countries, but the message is clear, and Putin, Kim Jong Un, Trump, Marine Le Pen, et al. must be rejoicing in an international community which is fracturing, allowing space for the strong-armed extremist to push in.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 9:12, closed)
Yep, best case scenario is that we wind up exactly where were before Brexit,
only instead of sending MEPs to not represent our interests, we don't send anyone.
I'll bet all the fishermen will be thrilled.

Wait, was this the plan all along? Nothing really changes, and our politicians get to carry on blaming the EU for things, only now they'll be comforted by the knowledge that there really is nothing they can do to change the EU?
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 9:57, closed)
Good point re fishermen
They will be restricted to 200-mile limit, instead of being able to negotiate access to other EU waters, and will be restricted by international & UK limits on catch size. Big win.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 11:01, closed)
So what's the difference then?
Norway, Iceland and Switzerland have all this. And pay fully for it. Without the rebate the UK used to get. And without any say in EU policy.

So the UK just gave up a deal in which they were part of the EU leadership* and got a rebate for one where they have no voice in the UK anymore and have to negotiate to get free trade, free movement and other access for potentially more money than they spent before.

*forget faceless bureaucrats, the countries run the show. If the leaders of the 28 countries decide something.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 11:40, closed)
The UK rebate doesn't mean it's overall in profit
it just contributed 13bn instead of 18bn. Eu spending in the UK was under 5bn, so there's still 8bn that the UK pays in that it doesn't get back. So the question will be, how much of that 8bn will the UK still have to contribute to gain access to the EEC. So far, no-one knows.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 11:44, closed)
Small beer
To be honest any payment to EU is far less than the potential up or downsides on trade (and therefore tax income) and fiscal impact (value of sterling = impact on national debt = interest payments = deficit). It's much more important to maintain access. The true price will be accepting free movement (if you believe that's a negative) and lack of influence on trade laws.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 12:03, closed)
I fully agree, and I don't think the EU will be daft enough to jeopardise trade in either direction
as it's not in their interests. I don't have any problem with the free movement of people either (I'd be an outright hypocrite if I did), and as for voting rights; when the UK votes against something it never wins anyway, so it's not like that seat at the table is really worth much.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 12:16, closed)
Voting maybe
But the fact that Britain is on the winning side of votes so often indicates that it is influencing the creation of laws. Lost that influence now.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 12:40, closed)
Not overall in profit....
... but paying proportionally less than Norway or Switzerland would have to pay I would think? I don't actually know this, I'm going to see if I can find it out.

PS: this is officially the first time this year a statement on the EU was followed by a disclaimer of ignorance.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 13:20, closed)
I can't find a straight answer on this
some chancing Eurocrat said "you'll pay as much per capita as Norway", and since norway pays 119GBP per capita, the total bill for the UK would be 7.7bn GBP for 65m people... so what it pays now, but keeping the regional development funds that it currently pays in and claims back. Depending on how you count it, the UK looks at being 1bn a year better off.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 13:39, closed)
1bn a year is peanuts compared to the potential downside
Britain's annual GBP = GBP453 billion (Q1 2016 estimate)
1bn = 0.2% of GDP
Annual GDP growth forecast = was 2.1%, recently downgraded to 0.4% following Brexit
So that's around 8 year's worth of net benefits lost already.

Debt repayment is more interesting. Current national debt = around GBP1.6 trillion. Annual cost to service debt = GBP43 billion.
1bn = 2.3% of 43bn.
So a tiny change in the interest rate will affect debt repayments far more than then scale of potential net benefits from reduced EU payments. And interest rates depend on credit ratings, and exchange rates...
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 14:23, closed)
sure, but that's the impact of Brexit itself, not Britain's economy outside the EU
Uk's exports to the EU dropped by 7% last year, and have grown by a meagre 3.6% over the past 15 years, compared to double that for non-EU exports. So the freedom to trade with non-EU countries on its own terms rather than the bloc's makes more sense for the economic future.

As for interest rates; they've been fucked for a long time either way. They can't stay at or near zero forever.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 14:40, closed)
Hopefully we won't be subject to bailout contributions
when the Italian and French banks implode they'll be another demand for cash. Since the EU have plans for a EU-wide tax code to avoid arguing over budget contributions, they may just sidestep the banks in future and come direct to citizen savings accounts.

I desperately wanted remain, but I'm not ignorant of the fact that there is a shit storm heading the way of the EU. We may find ourselves sighing with relief that we're not IN in a few years time.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 13:13, closed)
i know a couple of accountants and economists who think exactly this
that the south of Europe is full of people who are suffering greatly because of the EU and that there will be a backlash and a black hole of cash.

whilst I am gutted by the result, I think you need a crystal ball to see who will be proven right.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 13:15, closed)
But but but
GB already had agreement NOT to be part of any Euro-zone bailouts. And I cannot believe any country will agree to direct EU tax any time soon.

Also the story going round London in the last few days is that EU will withdraw 'passporting' from London, meaning they can no longer deliver financial services within EU, and will move these services to Paris and Frankfurt, rewarding those countries for staying in EU.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 13:26, closed)
UK already failed on its legal challenge of the Financial Transaction Tax, which is due to come in next year
The original plan of that was to generate 40bn straight from the city of london, sent straight to the EU's coffers for redistribution (ie negating italy, spain, portugal and greece's debts by transferring it straight to France and Germany).

Fuck that for a game of soldiers if that's what counts as EU solidarity.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 13:41, closed)
how can the eu vote impartially on this?
Germany and france would benefit enormously if they could get a big chunk of what the city does. why would they vote for the uk keeping it?

on the other hand, it's not as simple as swapping London for Frankfurt. the language, the infrastructure, the size of the city, the local laws, the speed of transactions, the fact that people would rather live in London all make London much more attractive.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 14:15, closed)
No votes are impartial, it's all politics
And Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, all lovely places to live and work...
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 14:24, closed)
all lovely cities
but people who are settled here aren't all that keen to move. some of them, sure, lots of them not so much.

still, people will follow the money, as a rule.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 14:30, closed)
I lived in London for 6 years...
.. and worked with and partied with hundreds of people who did menial office work, middle management, senior management, academic work. Only a fraction of them are still in the UK. This is Brits as well as expats. People move to London because there are jobs and there is a cool vibe. But a cool vibe doesn't cut it for more than a few years when the quality of life is better elsewhere and the cost of living is so high.
(, Tue 5 Jul 2016, 8:18, closed)
Hollande has already said he wants the EU part of the city transactions
he needs ammunition to stave off Le Pen for the vote next year. Getting some big bank in Paris might help, but then again most of Le Pen's supports comes from the regions where workers aren't doing so well.

Apart from that, hiring people, and more importantly firing them, in France isn't easy. You can transfer them if you can persuade the unions not to hire locals, but then they get French contracts, which are much, much tougher to break than UK ones. Then of course high fliers are subject to much higher taxes, which is why there are 600K French people in London right now.

So whilst it all sounds easy on the surface "we'll just move everyone to France" you can bet that companies will be weighing up what is best for them. If they can't transfer their star traders then it might all fail at the first hurdle.

I think it is all moot though, it looks increasingly like government will kick the can down the road and never invoke article 50. After a few weeks it'll be obvious that no-one dares pull the trigger and it'll be business as usual.

In the meantime the rest of us can scream unfair and demand that stupid people don't get to vote, or we can think about what normally happens in UK politics, i.e. no one screws up their chances of a job in the EU after their Westminster career is over.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 15:00, closed)
You're right, they'd be fools to relocate to France...
Which is why they're setting up in Dublin and Frankfurt. Amsterdam has even had a number of Asian companies enquiring after relocation options within 24 hours of the result.

Which British politicians get jobs in the EU? You usually get a commissioner, but the cushy jobs go to the small unthreatening nations. Denmark, Luxemburg, Belgium, the Netherlands. You can't have a French or German or Brit in a leading role since it would at the very least appear biased towards one country.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 16:23, closed)
Hmm, do you know how it works?
You do realise that there is always 1 commissioner per member state (including president and vice president)? So UK has just as many commissioners in EU as every other EU nation (even Hill who just resigned will be replaced by a Brit).

Commissioners are proposed by (elected) national governments. The EC president allocates roles based on their experience and capability. The (elected) Parliament has to agree to the list of commissioners and their roles.

Other roles in the Commission, and the non-political roles in Parliament, are effectively open for application by any citizen of a member state, except for seconded national experts, who are put forward by national governments. For any of these roles you need a decent knowledge of a 2nd EU language. I have many friends who work for the Commission, and their take is that UK is under-represented there because there is a lack of civil servants and others who have good enough knowledge of a 2nd European language.
(, Thu 30 Jun 2016, 9:06, closed)
The UK not being part of bail outs was partly why the EU wanted direct access to accounts
Don't forget what happened in Cyprus a couple of years back. The EU nicked deposits from citizens (and non-EU citizens) in a bailout, so they have form on this.

The European Tax ID is only an idea at the moment, but will be sold to everyone as a way to combat tax avoidance and to simplify contributions to EU coffers by countries, but once in place it'll be used for extra taxes to bail out banks again.
(, Wed 29 Jun 2016, 15:06, closed)
Bailing out banks. Exactly like our government did WITHOUT any EU interference you mean?
Given that the EU has actually TRIED to regulate the banks. Something that successive UK governments since 2008 have pointedly REFUSED to do.
(, Fri 1 Jul 2016, 21:59, closed)

" My kids are multilingual" like ANY good Belgian. After all there are THREE native languages in Belgium: French, Flemish and German so they better be speaking three languages as well (of course one of those will be English). My point is: Everyone in Belgium is multilingual and if you only know two languages you suck in Belgium. Same goes for Luxembourg.
(, Thu 30 Jun 2016, 2:17, closed)
And your point is?
Yes my boys have 3 languages each, 2 at mother-tongue standard. My daughter is fluent in 3 and has 2 others at a good level. My wife can work in 4 languages. I'm the exception with only having 2 fluent languages and 2 others at conversational level (and therefore I guess I suck in Belgium according to you). But I don't see how this says anything about the UK's role in Europe. I wanted my kids to have the opportunity of being bilingual, because I want them to have the opportunity to travel and work more widely.
(, Thu 30 Jun 2016, 9:10, closed)
I'm just wondering why you chose Belgium as a place to live and bring up your kids.
Having seen the Film In Bruges I now know that Belgium's only famous for two things. Chocolate and kiddy-fiddlers. And they're only good with the chocolate to lure their victims. So the fact you're still there after twenty years strikes me as somewhat...suspicious.
(, Fri 1 Jul 2016, 21:53, closed)

At last....
(, Thu 7 Jul 2016, 1:26, closed)
Luckily I live in the French speaking part
not in the Flemish speaking part, where Bruges is
(, Fri 8 Jul 2016, 14:19, closed)

Yeah, but, you're obviously not.. "Screwed
I'm British,"
(, Thu 7 Jul 2016, 1:41, closed)
Did you read my post?
Screwed because many of the major decisions I have taken over the last 20 years or so were on the basis of being a citizen of a country which is a member of the EU. Now all those things which being an 'EU citizen' implies risk being taken away.
(, Fri 8 Jul 2016, 10:46, closed)

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