All too often we are met with the cries of a ‘capitalist plot’ when defending the European Union to our Labour colleagues, as 'neocon' and 'neoliberal' are added in for effect. Indeed, with its focuses on intergovernmental trade it could be seen as 'capitalist' but to label it as some sort of capitalist conspiracy is dangerous at best.
The European Union is a project, one that at its foundation set out to further European integration and set out an equal standing of rights for all its citizens. The ways in which the EU strives for social justice in all member states are numerous.
Even the Single Market, derided for its focus on trade and the capitalist inferences that entails, has created a more balanced society by removing barriers and creating a level playing field that benefits the worker just as much as the employer. Socialism by definition is the belief in equality and through removal of physical and fiscal barriers the European Union answers that.
The budget of the European Union itself contains measures to ensure equality. Brexiteers are all too keen to tell us of how much we pay into the EU; but much of this capital is redistributed throughout member states fairly. Is redistribution not also key to the principles of socialism?
Finally, there are the extensive social benefits that have been given to citizens through membership of the European Union. Rights for workers, women, the young and the disabled are just a few of those protected by the EU. The creation of the working week is something that all socialists can agree is a good thing and the protection of maternity rights is something that must be protected at all costs; a protection that the European Union provides. The EU has seen great success in protecting against discrimination. Without it as an overarching governing body, countries would be free to stray far from the path of fairness, and so commences the race to the bottom.
OECD research shows that not only has the European Union led in terms of social justice and inequality, but that the United Kingdom lags behind its European neighbours in these fields before Brexit even happens; we are yet to see the true effect that Tory policy will have on a post-Brexit Britain, but the start from which we begin this isolationist journey is hardly encouraging.
Without membership of the European Union, there is no limit to what our current government could do that would lead us further into the depths of inequality. The Conservatives simply cannot be trusted to maintain the high standards of social justice that is regulated by the European Union.
Abby King is a member of LME, and a BA European Studies (German) student at Royal Holloway, University of London.