The EU debate is full of mistruths and confounding information. Even those campaigning to leave can’t agree on how much the UK contributes to the EU. Some will claim the figure is £14 billion whilst others will inflate it to £19 billion. Neither however, are right.
The UK’s contribution to the EU is based on GDP which changes year on year, and once the contribution is calculated an automatic discount (called a rebate) of £5 billion is applied.
In 2015, the UK’s net contribution to the EU was less than £6 billion. A far cry from the £19 billion some out campaigners would have you believe.
Breaking this down, Britain’s EU membership costs only 30p per person per day. A bargain when you consider that the CBI has stated the EU is worth £3000 per household.
As part of the Tees Valley and Durham, we benefit significantly from EU membership.
Under the Youth Employment Initiative North East, Tees Valley and Durham receive £19.8m; from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development we get £11.5; research and development funding for universities ad SME’s is expected to reach £130m; and the EU Structural funds will contribute £595.6m between 2014 and 2020.
In total, that’s a staggering £756.9 million that the North East, Tees Valley and Durham will receive from the EU before 2020.
Examples of where this money has been spent are evident across the North East from the iconic Angel of the North to NetPark in Sedgefield which will receive £4,939,608 in capital from the EU’s Regional Development funds. Closer to home Gestamp, and South West Durham Training Centre who have received £163,000 for their Enhanced Train to Gain project, have benefited directly from EU funding, along with many others.
People who advocate leaving, want us to take back control. But is this Tory government really going to invest the same amount of money into the North East that the EU does? To be frank, the answer is no.
Under this government, local authority funding in the North East is the lowest of all regions except the East Midlands. It would be fantastical to believe this government would put the same level of investment back into County Durham, where local authority spending will have been cut by £290 million by 2020.
In comparison, we have continuously done well from EU funding.
Whilst EU funding benefits the North East significantly, unimpeded access to the single market brings investment, growth and jobs to the region.
Our EU membership has attracted companies like Nissan and Hitachi Rail Europe to the region, and supports well over 100,000 jobs across the North East.
Companies like Nissan, Hitachi and Gestamp all support continued EU membership because they recognise the EU brings investment, growth, and jobs to the region.
Even Hitachi’s Chief Executive has said it would be “ridiculous” for the UK to leave the EU.
But the EU referendum isn’t just about economics. Benefits of EU membership are everywhere in everyday life. Other benefits include holiday pay, worker’s rights, maternity and paternity leave, and protection for agency workers to name just a few.
The EU has brought the cost of a ten minute phone call down by 74% since 2000, and has set the maximum charge for sending a text, cutting costs for consumers by 60%.
For 30 pence a day, the return we get from the EU is huge. It provides investment in our region, supports jobs, and protects our rights.
The EU provides each of us with a better quality of life, and for 30 pence a day that is definitely something worth protecting.