by Callum Anderson
With the dust just beginning to settle on the European election, it has become clear that only Labour can effectively present the case for the UK’s EU membership in the run up to the 2015 General Election and beyond.
For those of us, who believe that Britain can only be prosperous by engaging with our EU partners and not isolating ourselves, this only highlights what we have known for months. That is, those of us who are in the ‘in’ camp – regardless of party affiliation, must begin to illustrate the benefits of Britain’s EU membership.
As you may have noticed, I have tried to do my part, and, this time round, let’s look at foreign investment.
In 2011, the UK had the second largest stock of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) – attracting $1.2 trillion of investment – in the world, behind only the United States, was recognised the most attractive location for investment in the EU in the 2013 , the UK has been successful in attracting Chinese investment; from the EU27, only France attracted more Chinese FDI between 2003 and 2011.
What’s more, were set up by foreign businesses in Britain during 2012, creating and protecting 170,000 jobs. Investors from America, France, Germany and India saw Britain as a stable and exciting place to invest. For instance, the Tata Group, which owns Jaguar Land Rover, created thousands of jobs in Britain last year, whilst a Malaysia-led consortium led the £8 billion redevelopment of Battersea Power Station, which is expected to provide 20,000 construction jobs and 13,000 permanent jobs.
Similarly, has been the second most attractive place in the world (behind the United States for FDI in the aerospace sector, with EADS, Bombardier and General Electric heavily investing in Britain, as well as Europe’s top location for investment in pharmaceutical and biotechnology research and development (R&D), which is the largest contributor to R&D in both the UK1000 and the G1000 in 2008.
So, how would a so-called ‘Brexit’ affect investment from our European neighbours. Would it, as many Eurosceptics claim, change nothing? After all, Britain has so many other advantages, both economic and social, that it wouldn’t be in the interest of no one to cease investing in the UK. It’s difficult
Paul Polman, chief executive of the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever, in January that his company would rethink bringing its billions of euros worth of investment into the UK, if it were to leave the EU, stating that Unilever was “very concerned about the overall competitiveness of Europe vis-a-vis the rest of the world.”
But there is also plenty to suggest that many of our non-European friends would not look kindly on a UK withdrawal. For instance, more than 1,300 have invested in the UK, as part of the Single Market of the EU, and have created 130,000 jobs, more than anywhere else in Europe. This fact demonstrates that the advantage of the UK as a gateway to the European market has attracted Japanese investment.
Indeed, a lot of evidence suggests that American and Chinese companies view the UK in a similar way. Much of Britain’s allure would reduce if it were to abandon its EU membership. Indeed, why would an American and Japanese company invest in the UK, knowing that there is no easy access to the richest and biggest single market in the world?
There is no doubt that an engaged Britain that tries to reform the EU from within, instead of walking away will be far better placed to gain even more FDI from our European and non-European partners. For sure, the EU in its current form is in no way perfect. But it would be highly counterproductive for Britain to pull out and, subsequently, put billions of pounds of overseas investment at risk.
With UKIP topping the polls in the European election, largely at the expense of the Liberal Democrats, who lost all but one of their MEPs, it now falls to Labour to be the true party of the European Union. It is imperative that Labour is not afraid to offer a forward-looking, yet honest vision of Britain’s role in the EU. Indeed, it is Labour’s duty to put forward the case for Britain’s EU membership, highlighting the high level of investment that the UK enjoys, amongst other things, largely thanks to its EU membership. With UKIP performing so well in the European elections, the time for Labour’s hesitation on this issue must end now.
Callum Anderson works at a national charity