Continuing the fight for a fair deal
THIS year marks the UK's 40th anniversary of its entry into the European single market.
For 40 years Britain has benefited from being able to freely trade with some of the world's largest economies. Tourists and businesses have been able to travel freely without hindrance thanks to the freedom of movement. More than 2.2m British citizens now live, work, study or have chosen to retire in another EU country.
Over the past 40 years we have played a crucial role in turning the European Union into one of the world's trading powerhouses, allowing British businesses to thrive on the world stage, selling our goods to markets free from trade tariffs. Britain has been at the helm time and again to ensure we do not allow Europe to become insular and protectionist in its outlook. Defending free trade, opening up new markets for our businesses to trade with.
But we have already begun to see this influence wane as the virus of nationalism infects Britain's body politic.
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We face a massive challenge to ensure Britain remains a key member in the next 40 years. In 2013 I will continue to fight for a fair deal and to demonstrate to residents in the South West the disaster that would unfold should we exit the EU. I want to ensure the South West continues to be a net beneficiary of the EU. I also wish to see the single market opened up further. Allowing businesses to trade in services as well as goods and produce which could add a further £600bn to the British economy.
The single market is worth 3.5m jobs and the average household is £3,300 a year better off for our membership. I do not want us to threaten that in anyway.
The problems we face today are, by their very nature, supranational – they cross borders. And therefore, finding a solution to these challenges requires us to work together with other countries.
Through the European Union, we can come together to make our lives safer, more prosperous and greener.
I am also spreading the word of the latest euromyth which has been quashed after confirmation from the European Commission.
In October, the EU was accused of threatening the age-old tradition of reusing jam jars to sell home made preserves, pickles, jams and chutneys through new health and safety legislation. However, following my submission of a parliamentary question, the commission has now confirmed that the proposed legislation, designed to improve the sterilisation of jars being used in the marketplace, does not apply to those who produce their jam at home for charitable or domestic purposes.
I will now write to all dioceses in the South West as well as WI and community groups who have contacted him on the issue.
My inbox has literally been jammed full of queries from church groups, WI members and community leaders on the issue. Selling jams and preserves at village fates and fundraisers is a core part of British life and I want to assure everyone that the European Commission had no plans to threaten this.
Through a parliamentary question, I have been reassured that anyone wishing to sell their homemade produce for charitable purposes or to fundraise for their organisation is excluded from the new health rules. EU guidelines on food preparation do not generally apply to church or community groups and that will continue to be the case.
Again, a fiction has turned into a news story by anti-Europeans. I hope we can avoid getting into a pickle over such matters in future.