What have the Romans ever done for us!

You may remember that part of The Life Of Brian where Reg wants to know what the Romans have ever done. If you don’t then you should read it in full. The list is long and funny. GMWRAG members will note a similar spate of articles peppering the media in a lead up to the EU referendum on the 23rd of June 2016 and indeed some concerns. What indeed has the EU done for us?

For many of us our introduction to the European dimension of social security and its impact on our legislation started, and perhaps ended, with EC Directive 79/7. Compare and contrast nowadays to a quick visit to Rightsnet where entire sections are now dedicated to the consequences of positive European legislation and caselaw and the consequences, intended or otherwise of governments attempts to interpret, apply or challenge that. Either way it’s inarguable that Europe has had a huge impact on welfare rights advice in Great Britain.

From a broader rights perspective there is much to ponder. It can be argued that the EU has supported women’s rights through supporting maternity rights and promoting equal pay for women. It has embedded anti-discrimination and human rights law for disabled people and many of our diverse and local communities. This has impacted considerably in welfare rights. It has brought regional development spending and skills training in more deprived regions through the European Social Fund. It has promoted two-way free movement of people and trade, bringing respect and opportunity and the challenge of advising ever changing migrant populations. We often frame this type of discussion only in terms immigration, employment and prejudice. It can also be framed in terms of holidays, study and retirement.

Talking of which, equalisation of pension ages. Guess where that started!

Much of our current consumer protection derives from Europe including food labelling and cheaper phone calls. Ditto our environmental protection. Cleaner rivers, air and especially beaches all derive from the EU forcing the pace. That cheaper wine you’re drinking. Mostly down to the EU.

Health is as difficult an area as others but lets’ not forget that what we know now about Thalidomide would be much less had our media not been able to challenge an injunction against publication back in 1979… in Europe! Human rights? Do we need to add anything?

Are there criticisms of each of the above? Of course. Interesting though to read the Full Facts take on who makes our laws.

Has the EU brought peace? We’ll leave that one to you! However, it has forever changed the landscape of welfare rights.