Research from the Civitas think-tank tests the allegedly “self-evident and unanswerable” benefits said to accrue from the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) Single Market, and finds “no empirical basis” in support.
The report — which finds that for the UK the Single Market “must be counted at the very least a massive disappointment, and not far short of a disaster” in export terms — was written by Michael Burrage, the director of a market and corporate strategy research company and a former lecturer at the London School of Economics.
The study analyses trade and investment figures which a government minister in Parliament relied on to assert that EU members traded twice as much with each other as they would do in the absence of the Single Market. Mr. Burrage first looked to the documents cited in support of the minister’s claim, but finding “scant evidence” there he then conducted his own analysis of the data.
Mr. Burrage’s analysis of the minister’s argument, one he notes is used by “big business and many other pro-EU lobbyists to support their stance”, uncovered no empirical basis to support those claiming the Single Market confers benefits on the British economy.
In a conclusion which, it is claimed, “should fundamentally shift the terms of the debate surrounding Britain’s relationship with the EU” and which undermines claims made by Britain Stronger in Europe campaign leader Lord Rose that an exit could be an economic disaster for the UK, Mr. Burrage says:
“The main aim of governments has been to ensure that membership of the EU is seen as a prized asset, which the UK must not let slip from its grasp. This has resulted in a mis-selling of the trade benefits of the Single Market comparable in some respects to the mis-selling of payment protection insurance, though on a larger scale, over a longer period, and with far more serious consequences.
“PPI offered borrowers protection that on closer inspection proved to be illusory, and at disproportionate cost. The evidence shows that the same might well be said of the Single Market.”