The facts behind the big EU jobs lie

Alex Gordon exposes the reality behind claims that 3.5 million jobs will disappear unless Britain remains locked into the European Union

The popularity of the European Union in every member state is collapsing. Eurobarometer, the EU’s own polling organisation, found public confidence in the EU at its lowest-ever levels.

Nearly 30 million people – one in every eight Europeans – are unemployed and it is getting worse.

Young workers are even worse off. The unemployment rate for those aged 25 or younger is one in four across the EU. Youth unemployment is 50.5 per cent in Spain, 50.4 per cent in Greece, 35.4 per cent in Portugal, 31.9 per cent in Italy, and 31.6 per cent in Ireland.

Therefore it takes some brass neck for EU enthusiasts to repeat the old claim that 3.5 million jobs will disappear if Britain leaves the European Union.

This random figure was first published in 2004 by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR)and has been regularly recycled in the media and by Europhile ideologues ever since

But statisticians at independent fact-checking organisation Full Fact point out: “Figures from the early 2000s suggest around three million jobs are linked to trade with the European Union. They don’t say they are dependent on the UK being an EU member … Using similar methods, a similar figure today has shown closer to 4.5 million jobs, but this still doesn’t show how many are dependent on UK membership.”

The 2004 paper from the NIESR estimated, using similar methods, that up to 3.2m UK jobs “are now associated directly with exports of goods and services to other EU countries.” It warned that: “there is no a priori reason to suppose that many of these, if any, would be lost permanently if Britain were to leave the EU.”

In fact, NIESR director Jonathan Portes, who is certainly no Eurosceptic, described this research as “past [its] sell-by date.”

The list of car plants, engineering centres and train-building jobs stripped out of Britain’s manufacturing base, dashing the hopes of new generations of designers, apprentices and engineers is never mentioned by supporters of EU “free movement.”

From Peugeot’s decision to close the Ryton plant in Coventry in 2006 and move production to Slovakia and Ford’s decision to transfer production from Southampton to a plant in Turkey, jobs in the neoliberal EU move towards the lowest wage levels and EU regional funds are actively used to encourage this process.

No politician who supports Britain’s membership of the EU can claim to support a future of good-quality, well-paid, highly skilled jobs in Britain.

These much-needed aspirations are simply incompatible with membership of the single European market and the EU.