EU Referendum: What it means for you (Red Magazine)

On 23 June, the UK will vote on whether to leave the European Union, a body which currently allows free movement of people and goods between its members, as well as setting some laws and regulations. The debate so far has largely focused on the economy and immigration, both of which are undoubtedly big issues for the future of the country. But what about the effect on our everyday lives?

Will I lose any of my rights?

Supporters of the EU include the Trades Union Congress who argue that a whole host of workers’ rights would be jeopardised by an exit. Parental leave, paid holiday and redundancy regulation are all secured at an EU level and some EU supporters argue that a Conservative government who have previously threatened these kinds of protections cannot be trusted to enshrine them nationally in the event of a Brexit. Those who want to leave dispute this, arguing that rights set nationally will be more specific and relevant to the UK.

Will European shops like Zara and H&M get more expensive?

Free movement of goods within the EU mean that we can cheaply buy European products in the UK without any import costs or taxes. In the event of an exit, it’s possible that taxes on imported goods could be introduced, leading to higher purchasing prices. This is all tied up in bigger economic questions, too; if the pound becomes weaker following an exit, importers will likely have to offset higher import costs with higher prices. Brexit supporters, though, argue that new deals can still be struck with importers and that the competition generated by a free market would ultimately drive down prices.

What about my household bills?

Energy bills are up for debate, with Energy Secretary Amber Rudd suggesting these would rise by £500 million outside of the EU’s energy market. This figure has been disputed by opponents say leaving the EU doesn’t necessarily mean leaving its energy market, non-EU members such as Norway still benefit from being part of the energy market. The EU also controls VAT rates so other living costs could be affected; the infamous tampon tax, for example, came from the EU and was used by many in the ‘Leave’ camp as an example of unfair restriction. The ‘Remain’ side, though, point to David Cameron’s successful negotiations for the removal of the tax as an illustration of our ability to influence within the EU.

What if I want to move to Paris for a year?

The EU allows free movement of labour, so workers can easily move around member states. Following an exit, ‘Leave’ campaigners say new agreements would be made with European countries about the migration of UK citizens into them. Their argument is that these deals would be easily secured since they are in the interests of all parties, with UK workers providing much needed skills and labour. EU supporters, though, say this is too much of a risk and that visa restrictions could be imposed in the same way they are currently for travel outside of the EU.

What about arts and culture?

Art galleries, museums and cultural attractions around Europe have benefitted from EU funding and initiatives such as ‘European Capital of Culture’, which Liverpool has previously won. Those who want to leave, though, say that savings on contributions to the EU budget could be used to fund any shortfalls left in the arts sector. But the ultimate cultural question? Yes, Eurovision have confirmed that a United Kingdom outside of the EU would still be able to take part in the annual song contest.

Originally published on Red Online

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