Britain and the EU

Should Britain join in fully with the EU? It’s a strange question to me, coming from America. I had never thought about a “United States of Europe“. But here, it is a contentious issue. Having lived in several states in the US, I never really thought of each state independently. Yes, each state was independent and had their own set of laws, including tax laws, traffic laws, etc. But they were bound by common laws as well. I was used to it and never gave it a second thought.

But in Europe, where each country had been independent for so long, establishing a new relationship, whereby all member states would be bound by new, common laws, it can become contentious. The EU has been in existence for a long time now, but not all European nations are in it, nor are all those in it fully integrated. Britain is one that is partially joined with the EU. Now there are debates about whether they should join fully or even if they should withdraw.

I may not understand fully the history of the EU or how it currently operates, but I do know that member states must comply with all EU laws, regardless of how fully they are joined. All citizens of this European community have the right to come and go as they please within the EU. They have full rights in all the EU countries.

The reason that the issue is so contentious in Britain is that it is one of the few countries that suffer more as a result of membership in the EU. Because they have not fully integrated, Britain still has its own monetary system, using the sterling, but they do accept euros here. Proponents of the EU would like to see the sterling disappear as they fear that it is a more volatile market than the euro. If they are not part of the EU, Britain may suffer from competition. The EU green laws have imposed many new laws and regulations regarding energy usage. I have always thought of England as a green country, but not in terms of energy. Now “green” has come to have a different meaning. Everywhere you turn, you see “green” advertisements.

One of the biggest disadvantages I have seen is that Britain offers much more social benefits, such as free healthcare, than most, if not all, of the EU countries. That means that those EU citizens coming to Britain are entitled to all those benefits, while Britons going abroad may not receive similar tokens of goodwill in exchange. Because of this, immigration into Britain has risen over the years.

Immigration issues have been highlighted in recent months, with much anger towards immigrants taking jobs away from British workers. However, because criticism cannot be directed towards EU citizens, since those citizens have every right to come here and work (some at very low pay), the anger has been turned towards those immigrants from Asia and Africa. New rules are being put in place to curb immigration from outside the EU, but it will not solve the problems of immigration from the EU.

What feels strange to me is that you have different countries, with different languages, different cultures, different governments and laws joining together under a unified government. They may have different states in the US, but they have basically the same language, culture, and laws. An analogy to the EU would be to have all the North and South American countries unite. In the US, you have state as well as federal taxation. Though the EU does not tax its member states’ citizens, will that come in the future?

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