Evidence is accumulating that membership of the EU imposes a heavy ongoing net cost on the UK economy possibly in excess of ten per cent of GDP, over £140 billion a year at 2009 prices. Long before the 2010 euro crisis a consensus existed (amongst member-state governments, the Commission itself, NGOs, business and academia) that in the decades to come continental EU s prospects, as a market and an economy, are dire. That consensus is strengthening. As much as 60 per cent of UK exports already go outside the EU, using the author s estimates for the effect of distortions on trade statistics. Since 2000 they have been growing almost 40 per cent faster than exports to the EU. Growth in export markets is almost certainly going to occur in the 95 per cent of global population outside EU-26, rather than in the five per cent inside EU-26. That being so, the UK s first priority ought to be to decide how its trading arrangements with the world outside the EU should be configured. That decision would condition the extent to which the UK s relationship with the EU Single Market should be changed. Full withdrawal would be one of the options. The author examines these and other questions in some detail, including the three main alternatives (for the UK) to EU membership. He concludes by sketching out the mechanics, timetable, management and consequences of full UK withdrawal.
About the Author
Ian Milne has been the Director of the cross-party think-tank Global Britain since 1999. He was the founder-editor (in 1993) of The European Journal, and the co-founder (in 1995) and first editor of eurofacts. He is the translator of Europe s Road to War, by Paul-Marie Coûteaux, and the author of numerous pamphlets, articles and book reviews, mainly about the relationship between the UK and the European Union. His most recent publications are A Cost Too Far? (Civitas, July 2004), an analysis of the net economic costs and benefits for the UK of EU membership; Backing the Wrong Horse (Centre for Policy Studies, December 2004), a review of the UK s global trading arrangements and options for the future; and Lost Illusions: British Foreign Policy (The Bruges Group, December 2007), which assesses UK foreign policy since 1945 and suggests how it could become more effective. He graduated in engineering from Cambridge University and in business administration from Cranfield. His business career was in industry and merchant banking in the UK, France and Belgium.