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THE EU DEBATE: Should we stay or is it time to go? Your chance to vote
BRITAIN’S future in the European Union is a current talking point with Prime Minister David Cameron saying he wants the UK to “negotiate a new relationship” with Europe.
Shuttle reporter William Tomaney went to Strasbourg to see the workings of the European Parliament first hand and talk to West Midlands MEPs.
UNCERTAINTY over Britain’s future in the European Union was a big talking point as the European Parliament opened its doors for the first full session of 2013.
MEPs representing Wyre Forest residents provided a range of views on the question Prime Minister David Cameron wants to ask the British people in 2017 – in or out?
Jobs and the economy also dominated discussions when all 736 European-wide members came together to participate in the EU decision making through committees, voting, and debates in Strasbourg, France last week.
Labour’s Michael Cashman said Mr Cameron and UKIP were “isolating” Britain from Europe, which could “have a devastating effect on businesses in Wyre Forest and the West Midlands”.
UKIP’s Mike Nattrass, however, said the region’s businesses “suffered from regulation” and he supported full withdrawal from the EU. Other West Midlands MEPs – Liberal Democrat Phil Bennion and Conservatives Anthea McIntyre and Philip Bradbourn – want to stay in the EU but admit changes are needed. Nikki Sinclaire wants an in/out referendum as soon as possible.
Mr Nattrass said: “Local businesses suffer from regulation and post offices have been closed in Wyre Forest because of EU rules on monopolies.
“We have an incinerator being built in Hartlebury because the EU is forcing local authorities to move away from landfill but it is bad for the Worcestershire taxpayer and the environment.”
Mr Nattrass said UKIP believed the UK could successfully withdraw from Europe’s political union but remain trading in the single market.
However, Mr Cashman said: “There is no such thing as ‘outfluence’. You want influence. If you are on your own you are weaker and if you want to negotiate you have to be at the negotiating table.
"Does UKIP honestly believe the 26 other EU countries would give us a privileged access with full access to the single market?
“Being out of the EU makes no economic sense – a block of 27 countries, with 500 million people is far more influential than one country representing 60 million people acting alone.”
NEXT WEEK The Shuttle will continue the EU debate by looking at some of the discussions being held in Europe that could have an effect Wyre Forest residents and how people can find out more about what the EU does.