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Interested in the forthcoming EU referendum? Agree that the EU needs to change radically to meet the challenges of the modern world? Fancy listening to some excellent speakers and debating with fellow students over a drink or two? If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then Students for Britain could be the campaign for you.
Formed this summer for students, by students, Students for Britain exists to ensure that the voice of students is heard in the renegotiation of Britain's terms of EU membership, and to argue for the fundamental change which the EU needs to ensure that young people can make the most of the opportunities available to us in the decades ahead.
So what, you may ask, is wrong with the European Union, and why is such significant change required? Firstly, the substantial changes in the global economy since the 1950s, when the EU's predecessor organisation was created, have undermined the rationale for the kind of protectionism offered by customs unions six decades ago. Far from being a centre of bullish growth, the Eurozone crisis and underlying competitiveness challenges are now hobbling European economies, while the EU still maintains significant tariffs with some of the fastest-growing countries in the world, such as China and India, who the UK will increasingly look to for trading opportunities in the future.
Secondly, as students at York, we are proud of our reputation as an international university, producing graduates who travel all over the world during their careers. This provides even more of a reason then as to why our horizons should not stop at the EU's borders. Unfortunately, the EU's lethargic trade policy (talks on a trade deal with India started in 2007 and still haven't been completed!) are holding us back as we seek to tap into emerging markets in central Asia, the Far East and elsewhere across the world. Turbo-charging such trade efforts should be at the centre-piece of the current renegotiation to enhance opportunities for the graduates of tomorrow.
Finally, despite the failure of the EU to boost prosperity in recent years, the cost of belonging to the club has kept rising. The UK paid £53 million every day in 2013 to take advantage of the dwindling benefits of EU membership (twice what it would cost to abolish tuition fees). This is money that could be easily spent on partially reversing recent cuts to public spending, lowering the tax burden or reducing the budget deficit. More importantly, more of the money we currently pay to fund the EU should be in the hands of politicians we can at least throw out at election time if we don't like what they do with it. When it comes to the EU, no such democratic backstop exists.
In the months ahead, Students for Britain branches at York, and across the country will be organising student-led discussions, hosting outside speakers from a variety of backgrounds and putting on social events to enable as broad and inclusive a discussion as possible to take place about what Britain's future relationship with the EU should look like as we approach the referendum. Students for Britain branches will not affiliate to any political party, and will provide a welcoming environment to people from all backgrounds who want students' voices to be heard on this vital issue.
If you would like to get involved in your Students for Britain branch at York, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about our next event. Please also check out Students for Britain York on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @SfBYorkUni for the latest news on the campaign. Join our fight for a better deal for Britain today!