Better Off Out? The Benefits or Costs of EU Membership

This IEA classic concisely lays out the economic issues that would be raised if Britain were to leave the EU.

The first edition of this controversial book in 1996 significantly influenced the debate about Britain's relationship with the rest of the European Union. Its analaysis of the costs and benefits of EU membership showed that they are finely balanced: there is no basis for the claim that if Britain were to withdraw from the EU there would be 'dire economic consequences'.

Adherence to the Common Agricultural Policy is the major economic cost of EU membership. Escape from the CAP would be a clear gain but would be offset or partially offset by some increase in tariffs on British exports or ther EU countries and (possibly) some loss of inward investment. Intangible costs of membership include the costs of EU regulation.

This new and revised edition of Better Off Out? brings up to date the estimates made in 1996 and shows that subsequent studies have independently confirmed its conclusion that the net economic effect of EU membership is close to zero. It does not argue for Briain's withdrawal. But, the authors say, withdrawal should 'not be dismissed as a practical option for the nation, if membership imposes conditions that the country finds onerous'.

2001, Occasional Papers 99, ISBN 0 255 36502 0, 129pp, PB

See also:

The European Institutions as an Interest Group by Roland Vaubel