Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

If the UK is serious about the digital economy, we need to stay in the EU

23/04/2014, 09:02:19 AM

by Callum Anderson

Just in my life time, the way we communicate both with our friends and family, as well as, perhaps more significantly, in the work place, has changed dramatically. Out has gone the fax machine, and at times the telephone, and in has come the internet, alongside email, Skype and numerous other applications.

Similarly, the way we hold data has changed. According to the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, 90 per cent of our existing data has been produced during the last two years. In two days in 2013 the world produced as much data as in the year 2003.

The greatest challenge for governments in the twenty-first century will be how to utilise technology to the advantage of their citizens. Those who succeed will enable their countries to prosper, whereas those who restrict this digital revolution, or at least fail to position themselves so that they can take advantage of technological progress, will be left behind. Indeed, the governments who succeed will be successful because of their willingness to co-operate with other nations.

If the UK is to be among these successful nations, then there is no doubt that it must continue to work closely with its partners in the EU.

According to the European Commission, the digital economy is growing at seven times the rate of the rest of the economy. By implementing its Digital Agenda, the EU would raise its GDP by 5 per cent, equal to £1,200 for each EU citizen, and create 4 million jobs by 2020. This provides a compelling reason why Britain must retain its position at the heart of the EU, so that it can enjoy its share of the potential benefits this sector will bring.

A study by the Vlerick Business School in Belgium found that the internet sector provides 3.4 million jobs in the EU, with the UK representing 292,000 of this, the highest of any individual EU country. The result is that this comparatively new sector contributes €119.8 billion to the EU economy, about 1 per cent of EU GDP.

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Labour’s policy on the European referendum means death on the doorstep

13/05/2013, 05:04:39 PM

by Kevin Meagher

An in/out referendum on Europe is “not in the national interest” according to shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander on Radio Four’s World at One earlier. Securing recovery and providing stability for investors is more important than political game-playing.

There will be some measure of satisfaction at the top of the party that here is an issue where Labour look serious and resolute, particularly with business audiences. Privately, they will praise Ed Miliband for his fortitude. ‘We don’t want the uncertainty’, they will tell him. ‘You are right to hold out.’

He should not be seduced by their platitudes. What he should tell business leaders is that they will need to get their hands in their pockets and pay for a show-stopping pro-European campaign ahead of any vote in 2017.

He should explain that the ball has been threaded between the legs of pro-Europeans (and I include myself here) and we are left running to catch-up. The referendum is now essential to rebuilding trust with the electorate on an issue where the governed and the governing have become dangerously unstuck.

Ed should also tell them that Labour remains positive about Europe and that the vote that can be won.

The underlying problem is that the cause of closer integration has always been an elite pursuit and there has never been any real attempt to explain and, if not popularise, then normalise our membership of the European Union. For Ed Miliband, it can be a genuine One Nation cause.

As it stands today though, Europe is a proxy for all the antagonisms the public feels towards its governing class. Like immigration, it’s something that has changed a traditional British way of life without the public ever feeling they were offered the choice, let alone gave their consent. That sort of anger doesn’t dissipate, it festers.

For Labour, the party’s refusal to accept any of this means death on the doorstep. All the Tories and UKIP need to do in next year’s European elections is frame Labour as the party that won’t give the electorate a say. It will ensure there is little scrutiny of UKIP and provide the Tories with an attack line that will resonate in all parts of the country with all groups of voters.

A rum state of affairs, then, for a self-proclaimed people’s party to find itself in.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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