Just How Tied Up Is the U.K. to the EU?

Just How Tied Up Is the U.K. to the EU?

With the deadline for the U.K. to leave the European Union fast approaching, an examination of the marriage between country and bloc shows just how hard a divorce would hit.

MORE THAN TWO AND A half years have passed since British citizens voted to part ways with the European Union and throughout this time there has never been a consensus as to how the split should happen. After Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan was rejected by the vast majority of Members of Parliament on Tuesday, the British government is back to square one.

With the deadline for leaving the EU only 10 weeks away, multiple options have been brought back on the table, such as trying to come up with a better deal, postpone Brexit, hold a general election for a new government or even another referendum on whether to leave the EU. Although no one yet knows how the end of the story goes, experts agree that no matter the outcome, both the EU and the U.K. will feel its consequences.

From data protection rules to visas allowing the smooth transit of workers and students between the country and continent, the U.K. and EU are tightly bound together. Here are some of the benefits Britain has so far received from the EU:

  • The U.K. has massively benefited from immigration coming from the European Union, with 3 million European citizens living in the U.K., according to data from the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonprofit think tank specializing in foreign policy and international affairs. In exchange, 1.2 million Brits now live and work in the EU.
  • The U.K. also benefits in trade, with the European Union sealing better deals with the outside countries. About 60 percent of the U.K. economy relies on trade; 45 percent of exports go to the EU, while 53 percent come from the bloc.
  • In addition, there are 3 million jobs in the U.K. associated with EU trade, with trade-related job adding up to 10 percent of the British labor force.
  • Big on jobs is the financial sector, with London considered the European capital of banks.About 10 percent of jobs in the U.K. economy are related to finance, and 40 percent of financial services go to the European bloc.

The European Union also contributes 1 percent to the U.K. budget and about half to foreign investment in the country. In addition, 40 percent of British foreign investments go to the EU.

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