LONDON (Reuters) - Claims and counter-claims about the costs and benefits of Britain’s membership of the European Union are flying ahead of a June 23 referendum on whether the country should stay in.
Below are some of the main claims by the leading group supporting EU membership, Britain Stronger in Europe, and by two groups campaigning to leave, Leave.EU and Vote Leave, along with a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments.
Economics consultancy CEBR has said 3.1 million British jobs were directly supported by exports to the EU in 2011. A further 1.1 million jobs were supported by spending income earned from exports.
CEBR said it was not implying these jobs would be lost if Britain left the EU. The Bank of England said in 2015 the EU’s single market boosted jobs more than a simple free trade deal.
The Confederation of British Industry, which supports EU membership, says academic studies suggest EU membership makes Britain 4-5 percent richer, or about 3,000 pounds ($4,300) per household per year.
The studies the CBI favors typically point to gains of 1-2 percent. But the CBI says each only covers part of the gains of EU membership and that the total benefit is greater.
The CBI says some other studies that show big gains from leaving make unrealistic claims about trade deals Britain could reach or regulations it would scrap.
EU GIVES BRITAIN TRADING CLOUT IT WOULDN’T HAVE ALONE
Britain Stronger In Europe says countries around the world are more interested in trade deals with the EU, a market of 500 million people, than with Britain alone. Also, Britain would have to start negotiating deals from scratch if it left the EU.
The CBI said the EU was able to secure better access in China for cars and financial services, both big British exports, while non-EU member Switzerland was not.
Critics say the EU’s size is a disadvantage rather than an advantage, with trade deals delayed due to the complexity of 28 members’ priorities, especially in areas such as agriculture.
Stronger In says Britain can have a greater impact on global diplomacy by acting through the EU. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Britain to remain in the EU in February.
But Britain also exerts influence through its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and NATO membership.
The EU can present a common front on sanctions against countries such as Russia, and allows suspects to be speedily extradited from one member state to another, Stronger In says.
More than 400 suspects have been extradited to Britain under European Arrest Warrants since their introduction in 2004, compared with only a handful of U.S. citizens.
Leave.EU sees savings of 145 pounds per household per year from an end to EU budget contributions, 361 pounds from no longer being subject to EU agricultural import tariffs, 186 pounds from an end to EU fisheries policies, 146 pounds from an end to clothing tariffs and smaller savings elsewhere.
However, those figures do not factor in indirect economic benefits from EU membership and Britain, like Norway, might have to pay into the bloc’s budget to maintain access to its markets should it leave the bloc.
The projected savings also depend in part on Britain reducing import tariffs to levels well below other big industrial countries, not a policy Britain pursued before joining the EU or pursued by non-EU members such as Switzerland.
Britain could bar low-skilled EU migrants if it left the bloc. However, Switzerland and Norway had to agree to free movement of EU citizens to their countries as part of their trade deals with the EU. More than a million British citizens live in other EU countries, with the most in Spain and Ireland.
Britain would no longer have to respect laws drawn up in meetings of EU ministers and the European Parliament, and the European Court of Justice would lose its role as Britain’s ultimate court of appeal for EU law, Vote Leave said.
However, Britain would still have to abide by rules in any trade agreement it reaches with the EU, and have no formal influence on laws that affect British exporters.
Britain would need to decide separately whether to remain part of the European Court of Human Rights. This is not part of the EU and is recognized by almost all European states other than Belarus. It has ruled against Britain on issues such as prisoners’ right to vote.
Reporting by David Milliken, editing by William Schomberg, Janet McBride