When it comes to politics and discussions regarding the EU I have always been quite reserved in my opinion, thinking that I am not knowledgeable enough to express it in a confident and convincing way. Well, there are topics that don’t require a degree in politics or EU law in order to make a statement and evaluate the “pros” and “cons” of a certain political action.
Britain’s membership in the EU is one of them.
And, even though I do not consider my opinion as the universal truth, it is based on personal experience rather than on the sophisticated arguments of various political leaders.
My country of origin is Bulgaria, which is a member of the EU. As a result of this membership Bulgarian students have better access to universities in Europe and that resulted in my choice to undertake the PR course offered by Bournemouth University.
Upon my arrival I was a bit shocked to discover the negativity towards the word immigrant, which, as much as I tried to ignore, did affect me. I should emphasise that thanks to Britain’s and Bulgaria’s membership in the EU, I am allowed to use a student loan and pay my university fees after graduation, something not offered to international students whose countries are out of the EU. Without this, I would have not been able to afford studying here.
However, I should also emphasise that while Bulgarian students are provided with a great opportunity, UK universities and the country’s economy are also positively influenced due to the higher number of students signing up for degrees. Looking in the longer future, the more international students there are, then the more international graduates who might potentially stay in the country and contribute to the development of global firms operating in the UK. Nothing bad in having a culturally diverse office or lecture theatre, but I do feel for some of my friends saying that London has lost its authenticity as a capital because of this cultural mix. Should that be blamed on Britain’s membership in the EU? I don’t think so.
It fascinates me how popular the words “diversity” and “equality” are in today’s society, but when it comes to immigration, or what I see as free movement, the connotations are mainly related to stealing one’s job. And my personal opinion is that a lot of Brits are quite negative towards the EU as they associate it with a higher number of immigrants.
This is not surprising as such messages are continuously reinforced by the media. However, I can’t help but ask - if the job market is a level playing field, how does an immigrant endanger anyone else’s professional growth and development. And, of course, you start listening to discussions about benefits and the free NHS, which is fair enough, but if I work in the UK, pay my taxes, consume goods, contribute to the economy, what makes me different to anyone else – “equality”, right?
Immigration is only one of the considerations when thinking about “pros” and “cons” of Britain’s EU membership. Trade is the other big issue and I should admit – I am not an expert in this area, but my views are pretty straightforward.
As a single market the EU allows member states to import and export goods between each other without having to pay tariffs. This is great because with every generation the demand for various goods and services increases and it would be quite difficult for a single country to independently supply them. I find it easier to explain everything with cars - German cars are everywhere in the UK and British built ones are all over Europe. If this export-import relationship was subject to tariffs, probably access to BMW’s in the UK and Rolls-Royce’s in Europe won’t be as easy. I know it is not the greatest example, but probably it applies to other areas such as the pharmaceutical industry, which has a direct impact on people’s health and wellbeing.
A friend of mine enlightened me about the lack of tariffs being great for international trading, but some UK businesses operate only locally, and due to the EU membership are subject to various restricting regulations - excuse my vague argument.
Well, I am quite sure that the terms of each country’s membership can be renegotiated. Yes, it is probably a really time-consuming process, but would it be quicker to separately negotiate trading regulations with each country that is vital to the UK economy?
These are my rather simplistic thoughts with regards to the UK’s EU referendum. Surely, there are other vital considerations depending on whether Britain remains or leaves the EU, but I think one’s opinion should be based on one’s personal experience – we can’t be all experts in international politics.
Stilyana Podmolova, BA (Hons) Public Relations