UK government: EU membership in our interest but other diplomatic avenues should be explored

A UK government audit of EU powers in the realm of foreign policy has argued it is strongly in the country’s interest to retain membership of the union.

The key benefits cited included:

  • Increased impact from acting in concert with 27 other countries;
  • greater influence with non-EU powers, derived from our position as a leading EU country;
  • The international weight of the EU’s single market, including its power to deliver commercially beneficial trade agreements;
  • The reach and magnitude of EU financial instruments, such as for development and economic partnerships;
  • The range and versatility of the EU’s tools, as compared with other international organisations; and
  • The EU’s perceived political neutrality, which enables it to act in some cases where other countries or international organisations might not

However, complicated and fractious internal relationships and institutional divisions can slow decision making and lead to weak and muddled strategies. One respondent quipped:

The issue is not legal competence, but competence in general.

Fittingly, one beady-eyed analyst noted this gaffe:

Source: UK government

The UK will also have to contend with challenges emanating from the eurozone crisis and a shift of power away from the UK and Europe.

It was suggested that the EU work on streamlining its processes, and that the UK use the EU as a complement to its other diplomatic assets (like the Commonwealth, NATO and the UN), alliances with individual member states, and independent action, depending on the desired goal.

The full audit can be read here.