On 23rd June, we will all get the chance to vote to decide whether our country should remain in or leave the European Union.
I strongly believe that it is in the best interests of our local area that we stay in. The EU is vital for jobs and prosperity. Wales is a net beneficiary of EU support. Funding from the European Union to Wales was worth over 5 billion euros between 2007 and 2013 and almost 200,000 Welsh jobs are dependent on our membership.
Airbus Group, a major North Wales company that employs over 6,000 people at its site in Broughton, has recently written to its employees expressing support for Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. Citing the uncertainty on what a ‘leave’ vote will mean for the UK and the importance of the free movement of people, products and ideas across Europe, Airbus believe that it makes economic sense that we remain part of the EU.
Both NFU Cymru and the Famers Union of Wales (FUW) also strongly support a ‘remain’ vote as they believe this is in the best interests of Welsh agriculture. In March, NFU Cymru’s Governing Body issued a statement which included the following points that are so relevant to our local area:
“• Access to European markets is absolutely vital to the Welsh food and drink industry and the risk of this access being denied, or granted on less favourable terms as a result of leaving the EU is too great
• The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a critical component of Welsh agriculture, the current commodity price crisis highlights the importance of direct payments to help manage price volatility and thus ensure food security and underpin high standards of production
• Correctly utilised in Wales, the EU Rural Development Programme has the potential to help Welsh agriculture improve its competitiveness and profitability”
Our membership of the EU creates and safeguards thousands of jobs for Welsh people and we are more prosperous within the EU than we would be out of it. Not only does the EU account for 44% of UK exports and 53% of our imports, it is a major source of inward investment.
We also need the EU in our increasingly global world. So many of the issues that we face, including security and environmental concerns, transcend borders. Inside the EU we benefit from the European Arrest Warrant. This has allowed us to deport over 7,000 suspected criminals to Europe. Also, more than 1,000 suspected criminals who fled to Europe have been arrested under the European Arrest Warrant and returned to Britain to face justice. One of these was Hussein Osman, a terrorist involved in the London 21/7/05 attempted bomb attack. He was caught in Italy; brought back to Britain on a European Arrest Warrant and sentenced to 40 years in jail.
Leave campaigners like Boris Johnson want us to pull out of the EU, without giving us any thought-through alternatives. The EU is not perfect, but to leave would be to jeopardise so much.