Now I have had chance to read the lengthy Bank of England Report on EU membership I have been struck by the lack of evidence to support its one positive conclusion for staying in the EU. The Bank claims that membership has helped the “dynamism” of the UK economy.
They do see the need to define and prove this vague statement. They do so by saying the EU has made the UK a much more open economy, and this can be seen in the growth of trade resulting from this greater openness. Yet when you turn to the Annex to see the figures, you find in Annex 3 that the UK’s openness as measured by increased trade has advanced less quickly than that of the OECD as a whole. It is true they only give the figures for the period 1999-2014, not our whole membership. However, the last 15 years is the most relevant, as it is only in the last fifteen years that the EU has become so much more integrated and intrusive. Their figures show both trade in services and trade in goods increasing more rapidly for the OECD as a whole than for the UK.
The Bank of England is more in line with reality with the negatives they cite. They are right that the “UK economy was materially affected by the euro-area crisis” , which could of course recur. They are also right that “the impact of EU membership on financial stability is more challenging”.
It is difficult to argue that the single market increases our dynamism, when it weighs business down with dear energy, complex product rules, high VAT rates, an expensive overarching bureaucracy at EU and national level to implement it all, and a failure to negotiate free trade deals with much of the rest of the world. The EU seems to favour a limited number of large companies in each sector at the expense of challengers and small businesses.