ICAS focuses on the facts in EU debate

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By Michael McGlinchey, CA Today

28 April 2016

A new ICAS paper aims to inform the debate on the UK's relationship with the EU ahead of the in/out referendum in June.

ICAS has just published a series of key facts and figures on the UK’s membership of the EU to inform the debate in the run-up to the EU referendum.

ICAS technical experts have focused on key fiscal and economic aspects of the UK/EU relationship to provide a context for the debate ahead of the vote on 23 June.

Recent figures reveal:

  • A net annual cost of EU membership at around £8.5bn per annum, representing less than 3% of the average income tax paid per person in the UK.
  • 44% of UK exports (£223bn) are to other EU countries; 53% (£291bn) of the UK’s imports come from the rest of the EU.
  • More than 3m jobs in the UK are linked to exports to the rest of the EU, representing 10% of the UK workforce.
  • £496bn - Other EU countries stock of Foreign Direct Investment in the UK (48% of UK’s total), compared with 24% of UK FDI accounted for by the US.
  • 2m nationals of other EU countries work in the UK, while 1.26m UK citizens live in other EU member states.

ICAS is not taking a formal position on whether the UK should leave, or remain in the EU and notes that there are fundamental issues of sovereignty at the heart of the debate. It asks voters to note that there is a balance to be drawn and judgments to be made on the perceived net benefits or otherwise of remaining in the EU, as against a future outside the EU.

The intention of the ICAS paper UK Membership of the EU – Putting Into Perspective is to explain the current economic and fiscal status of the relationship and also to avoid any hypothetical figures which speculate on the potential impact of a UK withdrawal from the EU.

ICAS EU membership infographic

Download: ICAS UK membership of the EU infographic PDF [513 KB]

David Wood, Executive Director, Technical Policy, said: "It is important that the UK electorate are able to make an informed decision on 23 June. There are currently considerable claims and counter claims from both camps.

“The aim of this paper is to focus on the facts to the extent that they are available. One of the challenges with the figures is we know more about the status quo than what those figures would be if we were to leave the EU. However, this paper sets out to take a fair path in balancing what we know about both scenarios."

David Wood added that there is a need to put the debate into context. He said: "The cost of the UK Contribution to EU Budget (2015) was £8.5bn (£17.8bn gross less rebate of £4.9bn and public sector receipts to UK of £4.4bn). This represents 0.5% of the UK’s estimated total GDP of £1.79 trillion for 2015.

“This illustrates that the fiscal aspect of the UK’s relationship with the EU, while important, is dwarfed by the significance of the UK/EU trading relationship, and regardless of the outcome of the vote it is critical that this is maintained."

Find out more about UK Membership of the EU – Putting Into Perspective.

ICAS EU membership infographic

Download: ICAS UK membership of the EU infographic PDF [740 KB]


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