Ignoring the real reasons why our membership is bad for the UK such as surrender of sovereignty, red tape strangling business, our inability to control our borders and the huge amounts we pay to be members of this undemocratic institution, Cameron’s appeal to the public shows how little he will actually be able to change in his ‘renegotiation’ and lays bare the shallowness of his arguments.
However, let’s look at the reality of what he is saying.
1 – Cheap Flights
The Prime Minister’s claim that the EU has promoted the ability of airlines to provide cheaper flights for both business and holiday traffic misses a number of major points.
Firstly, business flights are on the decrease across the EU and the world in general. With the rise of ever better internet and communications technology, more companies are using this technology for business rather than flying to meetings overseas. Therefore, any EU intervention to make flights cheaper (Which I don’t actually believe has happened anyway) will not have a massive effect on business.
The growth area in flights is in the leisure sector – So have the EU made your holiday cheaper? The answer to that is an emphatic NO.
Even if they have intervened to make your flight cheaper, EU legislation and the Euro currency on resort have put the price of a one week holiday up significantly.
I regularly travel to see friends in Mallorca and the difference in the last 20 years is stark. Before the Euro, resorts were open all year round with families and youngsters frequenting the island in the Summer and OAP’s travelling over on cheap deals in the Winter which worked out cheaper than heating their homes. My friend Lee used to comment that he served beer and cocktails in the summer and cream teas in the Winter where the clubs were closed but the restaurants and bars in the town centre were still open.
Fast forward to now and the Southern Mallorcan resorts are shut down and deserted during the Winter with the associated loss of earnings and unemployment that it has brought, reflected in the state of the Spanish economy.
During the Summer, the Euro has massively increased the price of everything outside of the hotels. To give an example, a burger bar I patronised at night on the way back to my hotel after an evening out used to charge 500 pesetas for a quarter pounder before the new currency (About £2) – The year after, it was 5 Euros (Around £3.50 on the exchange rate at the time which has now got worse).
This has also led to the proliferation of all inclusive holidays which have badly affected trade for the local bars and restaurants during the peak season and has caused many closures of the smaller, family owned establishments.
2 – Cheap phone calls whilst roaming abroad
Mobile calls are now only a small part of what a mobile device does and are far from the top of the most used applications. Fifteen years ago calls were the main use of such a device before the smartphone era and the mark up was quite steep.
Today, competition alone has made the mobile companies offer packages to keep the price down whilst roaming and many of us use wifi as opposed to mobile data when communicating on resort.
Whilst this is still more expensive than using your device in your home country, the networks use the revenue raised to subsidise your equipment on a fixed term contract and to build updated network infrastructure – We are now on the 4th generation network (4G), with the mobile companies having to build a whole new system every ten years at a cost of billions whilst maintaining the 2G and 3G networks at the same time. By removing roaming charges the EU will end up penalising users in their own countries as the subsidies may have to fall or there will be less investment in the new networks, leading to worse coverage. For the sake of a slightly cheaper service for one or two weeks a year you will end up with a worse service for the remainder!
So Cameron’s arguments, even in this limited sense, are once again flawed.
The ‘renegotiation’ is not on the table and his attempt to convince us that our EU membership needs to be retained for such spurious reasons is a sign of his desperation.
Remember this come the referendum and vote to ‘Leave’.