‘For 40 years Britain has benefited’ - SW MEP Watson reflects on 40 years of UK membership of EEC/EU - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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‘For 40 years Britain has benefited’ - SW MEP Watson reflects on 40 years of UK membership of EEC/EU

Tuesday, 1 January 2013
Today - 1st January 2013 - marks exactly 40 years since the day the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community, now the European Union. To mark the occasion, long-serving South West Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson has reflected on what this period has meant for the UK in terms of trade and growth. On his website he writes:

"For 40 years Britain has benefited from being able to freely trade with some of the world's largest economies. Tourists and businesses have been able to travel freely without hindrance thanks to the freedom of movement. Over 2.2 million British citizens now live, work, study or have chosen to retire in another EU country.

Over the past 40 years we have played a crucial role in turning the European Union
into one of the world’s trading powerhouses. Allowing British businesses to thrive on the world stage, selling our goods to markets free from trade tariffs. Britain has been at the helm time and again to ensure we do not allow Europe to become insular and protectionist in its outlook. Defending free trade, opening up new markets for our businesses to trade with. But we have already begun to see this influence wane as the virus of nationalism infects Britain's body politic.

Looking ahead, he writes:

"We face a massive challenge to ensure Britain remains a key member in the next 40 years. In 2013 I will continue to fight for a fair deal and to demonstrate to residents in the South West the disaster that would unfold should we exit the EU. I want to ensure the South West continues to be a net beneficiary of the EU. I also wish to see the single market opened up further. Allowing businesses to trade in services as well as goods and produce which could add a further £600 billion to the British economy.

"The single market is worth 3.5 million jobs and the average household is £3,300 a year better off for our membership. I do not want us to threaten that in anyway. The problems we face today are by their very nature, supranational, they cross borders. And therefore, finding a solution to these challenges requires us to work together with other countries,he continued.

"Through the European Union, we can come together to make our lives safer, more prosperous and greener."

Photo: Prime Minister Edward Heath signs the EEC accession treaty, 22 January 1972, Brussels (Telegraph)

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