Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

EU debate runs deeper than a simple Yes or No

Andrew McKeever (Write Back, October 28) asks a fair question concerning a potential referendum on the EU which deserves a fair answer.

Of course, while all DUP-endorsed MPs voted for the referendum, Alliance's Naomi Long voted against - notable because two UCUNF candidates are now members of her party and I, myself, canvassed for it last May.

I am against a referendum on the simple basis that our relationship with Europe is a much more complex issue than a straight Yes/No question can cover.

It's an open one about what type of relationship the UK is going to have with Europe.

Given that 56% of UK trade is done with eurozone countries, the crisis in the eurozone will a profound effect on our economy and on our standard of living. This is not something from which we can simply opt out.

We have to ask how we can achieve influence over what goes on within the eurozone, while at the same time avoiding overly severe restrictions on our economic policy imposed from outside.

That does not mean we should not caution against the dangers of a bureaucratic superstate, but it does mean we cannot just opt out of influence on the broad European debate.

Indeed, far from moving economic levers further away, it is my view that we should be devolving more of them - including over corporation tax and air passenger duty - to our own control.

IAN JAMES PARSLEY

Newtownabbey, Co Antrim

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