Reforms

EU reforms needed

Admittedly the current European Union is far from perfect. Instead of free market and pro austerity agenda, it needs to implement pro people policies, revive participatory democracy and restore equality. It needs to return to its original purpose of an alliance of nations with shared interests for the ultimate goal of peace.

The Union is a work in progress. Britain should be inside Europe, not watching it from outside with no say in the decisions that affect jobs, growth, investment and our security and with no voice at the table. - Vijay Mehta

The EU does have flaws. These need to be rectified for the sake of the UK as well as other European nations - and we cannot resolve the problems in Europe if we are outside of it.

The UK and the EU are implementing the corporate agenda, also known as austerity

Austerity is presented as a means to an end; living on a tight budget for a while, to get out of debt and have economic benefits in the long run. In a sense that is right; austerity does involve all of us (except the few with offshore bank accounts and very good investments) living on a tighter budget, but for whose benefit is it really?

Austerity is in actual fact a name for taxing the poor, the average and cutting public services in order to pay for bank failures (including their generous bonuses), military action, and opening the way for big business to have a piece of public services.

The pro-austerity policies being implemented by the EU are why countries like Greece and Italy have suffered as members of the Union - for instance, having to take away pensions, which people had spent their whole lives saving, is simply cruel.

As a result of the tax and welfare changes to be implemented between 2010 and 2014, the poorest two-tenths of the population will have seen greater cuts to their net income, in percentage terms, than every other group, except the very richest tenth. The Institute for Fiscal Studies found that the net direct effect of the coalition government’s tax and benefit changes will be to increase both absolute and relative poverty. Over the decade to 2020, an additional 800,000 children are expected to be living in poverty – almost one in four British children. Over the same period, an extra 1.5 million working-age adults are expected to fall into poverty, bringing the total to 17.5 per cent of this group. When incomes are adjusted to account for inflation, absolute poverty has already seen its largest year-on-year increase in a decade, rising by 900,000 in 2012. - Oxfam "The True Cost of Austerity and Inequality", 2013

Getting out of the EU will not fix this corporate agenda problem, and it is equally ingrained in UK politics. It needs to be changed from within the UK and from within the EU.

There is a democratic deficit in the EU, and arguably in the UK too

Like the problem of corporate influence on policy, and intrinsically linked to it, is the problem of ordinary people feeling like they have no say in politics. The very idea of democracy is self-government - it is for us to decide what is best for our health, welfare and so on. As many UK citizens have lost all sense of their opinion mattering in UK politics since the protest against the Iraq War, most of us do not even have any idea about the decisions being made in the European Parliament in our name.

While EU policies have undoubtedly brought us huge benefit, protecting workers' rights, human rights, and gender equality, the average Brit feels largely detached from that decision-making forum.

There needs to be a revival of participatory politics in the UK and in the European Union, so that people have a sense of who is taking forward their views, how those decisions are being made and how they can influence the debate. This is another problem that cannot be solved by coming out of the EU, as the same feeling is pervading the UK with regards to British politics.

The EU, and the UK, are pro-NATO, and thus shaped by military agenda

By being pro-NATO, our policies are shaped by military agenda, including the agenda of the most well-funded, powerful and interventionist military organisation in the world, that of the USA.

While NATO is presented as a peacekeeping alliance of friends, it is a mighty military alliance that actually incites greater tensions between nations. From the recent events in Ukraine, to today's military exercises, it is constantly flexing its muscles and creating greater rifts between the East and West.

Billions and billions of Euros spent by NATO and Europe hosting war exercises increases fearology, prepares people mentally for enmity and war, and lines the pockets of the rich, of arms manufacturers and war profiteers - Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

If NATO is a peacekeeper, why is it not keeping peace in the countries into which it has invaded (or as they say, intervened)? Since 9/11, led by the US, NATO has fought many illegal wars. They argue that it is necessary to fight terrorism and defend member states from threats but yet it was NATO's wars that led to the strengthening of Jihadist fundamentalism and the failure of states.