By Izzie Hockey
English Speaking Union student, Izzie Hockey, gives her insider perspective on Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
The European Union (EU) was created in 1992 with the Maastricht Treaty and was signed by many European countries. Today there are 28 member countries. The EU has many functions: For example, they have created a single currency for most of the member states, the Euro, which has increased economic stability in many countries. The Euro ensures that in the case of a financial crisis in one EU country, other countries will help them and ensure that the Euro does not decrease in value. Furthermore, the EU has its own governing body, called the European Parliament, which creates laws that apply to every EU country, often in the areas of agriculture, justice, and workers’ rights.
If a country is part of the EU, all of its citizens can enjoy free movement of travel and study, so they are able to live or work abroad without having to apply for a visa. The EU has many trade agreements whereby there is a low tax on importing and exporting goods within the EU to ensure that trade between countries is encouraged. If the EU product is cheaper, then a grocery store is more likely to import the EU product, ensuring that EU producers have sufficient demand. Finally, the EU has created a justice system where people can take court cases if they want to appeal the decision made in their home country.
My background definitely influenced my opinions about the EU, as my mother is French and my father is English. For my entire life, I have benefitted from freedom of travel so that I can go to France to see my family every month, so that I can go on vacations in Spain, and I can visit my godfather and his family in Germany. I was raised to think that all people are equal; no matter in which country they were born, they all have the potential to be valuable members of society. Therefore, I was extremely disappointed to hear that my country had voted to leave the EU. If it was not for freedom of travel, I may not exist, because my parents would not have been able to stay together at the time. Yes, you can get visas, but many people cannot afford them.
One of the arguments used on the pro-Brexit side was that immigration should be limited. This deeply upset me because my mother is an immigrant and has taught elementary school children in Britain for more than 15 years, so you cannot argue that she has not benefitted society. Also, if it was not for the EU, I would not have been able to travel around Europe so freely and inexpensively as I did as a child. I could talk for a long time about how important the EU is to me and how devastated I am about this decision. However, I am hopeful that the UK’s new Prime Minister will make the right decisions in order to keep our society multicultural, support our economy, and ensure that we do not completely alienate ourselves from Europe.