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Can the EU deliver for working people? Leading progressives debate the arguments


  • MPs, MEPs, leading academics and trade union leaders feature in our essay series
  • Essays are an excellent resource for commentators, activists and representatives

For further information and media requests:

Contact: Ellie O’Hagan
T: 0207 611 2571

Following last night’s heated debate between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg, a new essay series released today [Thursday] by the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) puts forward key progressive arguments for and against Britain remaining in the European Union (EU).

The series is a vital resource for commentators, activists and representatives who want to get to grips with the central debates surrounding Britain’s role in the EU.

Featuring key thinkers from across the left, including MPs, MEPs, leading academics and union leaders, the essay series asks whether the EU is a progressive beacon of international co-operation, or an anti-democratic institution which promotes a neoliberal agenda.

Can the European Union deliver for working people?


Billy Hayes, General Secretary of CWU argues that the EU has acted as a progressive force in the face of regressive UK governments. While successive governments embraced privatisation agendas, the EU has struck a progressive counterbalance by promoting employment rights and social legislation. He argues that we need an EU to bring together working people. It is only with cooperation across Europe that the financial crisis can be solved.

Clare Moody, lead candidate for Labour in the European elections in the South West, says the EU has consistently delivered for trade unions, with measures such as redundancy regulations, better paid leave and maternity leave protection being implemented through the EU. Leaving the EU will only strengthen hard-right parties like UKIP.

Claude Moraes, Labour Member of the European Parliament for London and deputy Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, argues that EU membership is vital for the British economy. He says Britain’s membership is worth between £31bn and £92bn, and that 4.5m British jobs are dependent upon EU trade.


John Cryer, Labour Member of Parliament for Leyton and Wanstead, describes the EU as a big club for big business. He cites numerous European treaties which have significantly altered UK politics without the consent of British voters, and points out the fact that austerity measures have been foisted upon working people in different member states by Brussels.

Carolyn Jones, Director of the Insitute for Employment Rights (IER), sees the EU as a “neoliberal prison.” She argues that the trade union rights secured by the EU are simply “sweets” to distract us from the fact that the EU’s primary function is to further entrench neoliberalism into the global political system.

Professor Jonathan Michie, Professor of Innovation & Knowledge Exchange at the University of Oxford, calls the EU an “economic straight-jacket.” He points out that numerous EU member states are suffering from the consequences of austerity, but that no serious anti-recession policies have been adopted at a European level. Professor Michie’s essay goes into some detail about the problems with the single currency, arguing that it has exacerbated the problems of certain countries which have been hit particularly hard by the consequences of the financial crisis.

Further titles are coming soon:

  • Yanis Varoufakis on how to achieve a more sustainable economic future for Europe
  • Bernadette Ségol and Jude Kirton-Darling on tackling the European crisis in living standards
  • Glyn Ford on stemming the rise of xenophobia across Europe


– ENDS –

Notes to Editors:

1. The Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) is a new think tank established in 2012 by Unite the Union, GMB and the Institute of Employment Rights to act as a centre for left debate and discussion and has the growing support of a number of trade Unions including ASLEF, CWU, FEU, GFTU, NUT, PCS, PFA, TSSA, UCATT, MU, NUM and BFAWU. Originating in the labour movement, Class is working with a broad coalition of supporters, academics and experts to develop and advance alternative policies for today.

2. A copy of the Essay Series can be found here:

More information
For further information, articles, interviews or media requests please contact Ellie O’Hagan on or 020 7611 2569.

Work areas: Europe. Tags: European Union.