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EU-US trade agreement is a unique opportunity for the UK to create jobs and set global trading rules

June 21, 2013 3:11 PM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats
Catherine Bearder MEP Last week the Lib Dems launched our One Million jobs campaign, highlighting our success in helping to create one million private sector jobs since 2010 and our determination to deliver one million more. We believe that both at home and abroad, our primary focus should be on rebalancing the economy and giving unemployed people opportunities to get back into work.

Working closely with the EU will help us to achieve this goal. The planned EU trade deal with the US launched at this week's G8 summit is set to create an estimated 400,000 jobs in the UK and increase economic output by £10 billion, the equivalent of a £380 a year for each British household. Sectors such as the Britain's thriving car industry, which currently employs 131,000 people, will undergo an export boom resulting in a major boost to output and jobs.

Lib Dem MEPs are pushing for a speedy conclusion to the negotiations so that the UK can reap the benefits as soon as possible. We need to overcome both eurosceptic voices in the UK and protectionist voices in other EU countries, and make sure we focus on achieving an ambitious deal that delivers for both British citizens and Europe as a whole.

However, this deal is not only about creating jobs. It will also boost Britain's ability to set the rules that govern the global trading system in the 21st century.

Few people realise the extent of the EU's influence in setting global trade rules. From the make-up they apply in the morning to the cereal they eat for breakfast, people all over the world are constantly being affected by European standards in their everyday lives. Any international company that wants to export to the world's largest consumer market will generally find that it is cheaper and easier to apply EU standards across the board. That is why even major economies such as China and the United States are heavily influenced by European rules.

This is one of the central reasons why it would be a huge mistake for the UK to leave the EU. Not only would we miss out on crucial trade and investment, we would find ourselves still being bound by EU standards but without having any say in how they are formed. The emerging trade deal between the EU and US means the case for remaining a member just got even stronger. One of the main aims of the deal will be to harmonise product standards on both sides of the Atlantic. With the EU and US accounting for almost half of the global economy, the trade agreement will become a powerful framework for setting international trading standards. The choice for the UK is clear: do we want to be a key player in the global trading system, or do we want to relegate ourselves to the margins, content with accepting the rules other countries have agreed without us.

As the third largest country in the EU anda fullyengaged member, the UK can play a central role in shaping EU rules and ensuring that they are pragmatic and effective. The exemption of small businesses from burdensome EU accounting rules, led by Lib Dem MEPs in the European Parliamentand Business Secretary Vince Cable in the Council, is a good example of what can be achieved when Britain plays a full and constructiverole. Ultimately, we are far better off helping to shape the EU, rather than allowing ourselves to be shaped by it.

Catherine Bearder is one of two Liberal Democrat MEPs who represent the South East region in the European Parliament. She is a member of the Parliament's Committee on Regional Development, Committee on International Trade and a substitute member of the Transport committee. She is also a member of the Parliament's delegation to the Joint Parliamentary Assembly between the EU and the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Regions) which requires working with representatives from some of the poorest countries on the planet. Previously Catherine was Director of Campaigns for Britain in Europe in the South East region, in which role she worked to highlight the economic benefits of EU membership.