Ben Lancaster, City University, Clerkenwell, gives his view on why being part of the European Union is important for young people.
On 23 June, the British people will cast their ballots in what, in my opinion, is the most important vote in this country in a generation.
When, in 1975, Britain voted on its continued membership of the EEC, the debate was far more clear cut. The Community was Western European and was simply a trading bloc that had the aim of advancing co-operation, peace and growth. The “Ins”, almost entirely Labour, Tory and Liberal, were united; there were no nationalist parties, no devolved assemblies. The “Outs” were underfunded and overshadowed by the primarily In-supporting party leaders.
Now, however, the EU is finally becoming what Winston Churchill envisaged after World War 2, and the fall of the Soviet Union brought Baltic and Eastern European states into the fold. The benefit of the EU is that Britain, achieves more with its European partners than it can achieve alone. It enables us to contribute to the world’s most powerful trading bloc; to ensure our economic security; and to compete with new industrial powers.
Trade, however, is one reason that the Left might disdain the EU. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is currently being negotiated between the US and an unelected EU commission, includes provisions for large multi-nationals to sue our governments because of their insistence on providing public services and protecting the environment.
While leaving the EU might seem like a sure-fire way to protect ourselves against this, it would also deny us the opportunity of opposing TTIP and would remove the possibility of negotiating new trade deals that could promote growth, jobs and investment.
It matters to young people that the EU offers us opportunities to work, travel and study, not to mention the benefit of a stronger economy, improved national security and protection of workers’ rights. As part of the EU we can change it for the better.