Lee Rotherham’s latest publication “The EU in a nutshell” (Harriman House) is an excellent guide to the history, costs and law making of the EU. He sent me a copy of it to review on this site, which I am happy to do.
From the opening remarks of David Starkey, reminding us of England’s history seeking independence and distance from the continental powers, to the country by country guide, it is packed with useful information.It could, for example, be a useful source book for trying to answer the crucial question ,what are the costs and benefits of UK membership?
The UK’s total payments into the Union, after deducting the rebate, amount to a mighty £170 billion so far. We have also paid more for our food, though have benefitted from some tariff reductions on other products. A Treasury study under the last government is said to have concluded that the total costs of EU membership amounted to a massive 28% of UK GDP. This comes from adding 7% costs of EU protectionism, to 6% costs of overregulation, to 3% transatlantic barriers to trade, to 12% being the EU’s competitive gap with the USA. This combines imposed costs with missed opportunities and can be criticised for that. It is however, undeniable that the extra costs of EU regulation and protectionism are real, and limit our ability to compete with the rest of the world.
We have run a large balance of payments deficit during our years of membership with the rest of the EU, whilst often running a trade surplus with the rest of the world despite the extra costs and regulations imposed on that trade by the EU.
The book also charts the rise of EU powers and law making. It demonstrates just how many different views have been expressed by the various authorities over how much law is now EU derived. All the figures point to it being an important amount, and some suggest it is the large majority in many areas. It analyses the viewpoints of the differing countries, and stresses just how different the balance of costs and benefits are for the various states of the Union.
If you want to be reminded of how the Euro came about, know how voluminous the law codes or or just browse through the vast array of EU institutions and quangos, this book is for you. You will not find much evidence of benefits to the UK, but I do not suppose that will surprise most of you.