Who does the EU benefit most? – EUmatters


Published on March 4th, 2016 | by frances


Who does the EU benefit most?

By Andrew MacDonald, Prospect BT Nottingham Branch Secretary 

At a Treasury Select committee on the 2nd of March, Lord Stuart Rose (head of the Remain campaign) was asked the following question:-

“If free movement were to end following Brexit is it not reasonable to suppose we would see an increase in wages for low skilled workers in the UK?”

Lord Rose agreed that wages would increase! then added “That’s not necessarily a good thing”.

This reaction from Lord Rose has really strengthened many of the concerns I have about the present course the EU is taking. After our trip to Brussels I have done a lot of research into the influence that industry lobby groups have into the development of the EU.

I ask myself whether the “Social Europe” aims of Jaques Delors have survived over the ten years since the last major EU expansion. Is the EU still motivated by a desire to improve the lives of its citizens? Why does it seem to me to be so out of touch with ordinary people?

Our visit to the International TUC was a great experience. The speakers we met were impressive. They were eloquent and passionate about the work that was being done and what had to be achieved in the future. I also sensed realism about the issues that the EU needed to resolve and about how difficult that might be with the course the EU is on at present. What I did learn is how much of a vital job unions and the ITUC are doing in standing up for workers at the EU.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership (TTIP) negotiations have been going on for several years now. They are, for certain, highly secretive. I would ask the reader to investigate for themselves what the motives for this trade agreement are.

What I believe we do know is that in the years 2012-13 for example for every encounter the TTIP negotiators had with a trade union or a consumer group they had twenty with Business representatives. It’s not unusual for a major corporation to spend 1-2 million euros per annum on lobbying activities in Brussels.

Thirty FTSE companies recently came out to support the “remain” campaign in the UK. Of course they may have their say but I believe we should be realistic about their motives. Quite rightly, their concerns are focused on their corporate success and that means profits. There is little onus on them to consider the social benefits for UK workers. Globalisation means that corporations don’t really identify with a home country any more, or even a continent.

I believe that the social aspect was once very strong in the EU. I now struggle to see that focus any more. More than ever unions are needed to support and campaign on behalf of workers. The great work done by the ITUC and affiliated bodies in Brussels is more important than ever.

I believe in a living wage for all workers and I believe that most people in Europe do also. I ask myself if this can be achieved in an EU so dominated by corporate influence. Unfortunately, after hearing Lord Rose’s comments, I feel that unless the EU is hugely reformed then this unlikely to happen.

In 2016, who does the EU benefit most?

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