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The Price of EU Membership

  • The European Union costs Britain at least £31 billion a year
  • Leaving the EU is the key to free trade for British exports

Membership of the European Union costs the British economy at least £31 billion a year, according to a research paper by the independent think tank Civitas.

This figure is a conservative estimate based only on reliable evidence and excluding claims and calculations that cannot be readily substantiated.

It is contained in a forthcoming publication by Civitas research fellow Jonathan Lindsell, who provides an even-handed evaluation of previous studies to provide an authoritative starting point for debate about the cost of the EU.

The paper acknowledges the limitations of the available data on the costs of the EU but establishes beyond dispute that:

  • The cost of EU regulation to British business comes to at least £20 billion a year
  • The Common Agricultural Policy costs the UK a further £5.6 billion a year
  • The annual British contribution to the EU budget is £6.8 billion a year
  • Child benefit payments sent by migrants to non-UK families costs £36.6 million and child tax credits £18.6 million

While the reality is almost certainly much worse, the study is designed to outline the bare minimum the EU costs Britain.

Meanwhile, the benefits of leaving the EU would be enormous as it would enable the UK to negotiate its own free trade agreements (FTAs) on its own terms with the rest of the world – including the remaining EU 26.

FTA negotiations between the EU and America, China and India are bogged down due to the competing demands of the 27 different members. Those that have been a success – with Canada and South Korea – have taken years to achieve.

“The EU is too large, divided and unwieldy to close deals with the most important markets,” Mr Lindsell writes.

“Protectionism lingers, for example between France and Poland’s agricultural sectors, and America’s bread basket and automotive industry.

“The supposition that the UK, with the eighth largest economy in the world, would somehow lose its ability to form meaningful trading relationships is fanciful.

“In fact it is more likely that, alone and flexible, the UK would be able to negotiate FTAs both more swiftly and more appropriately than as an EU member. Their value to the UK economy is inestimable.”


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