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What Actually Happens If Britain Leaves The EU?

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By Christopher Grey:

Europe is always a heated topic at a Conservative party conference. This year much debate has focused on David Cameron’s ongoing renegotiation of terms for staying in. By contrast, relatively little has been said about the terms on which Brexit might happen. Those advocating it oscillate between – and often treat as interchangeable – quite different and incompatible scenarios.

Leaving the club? tristam sparks, CC BY-NC-ND

The truth is that anyone who works for, or consumes the products of any organisation – in other words everyone – would be affected by a UK exit from the European Union. As someone who studies organisations for a living, I believe that it is strongly in Britain’s interests to remain in; it is why I am a member of the European Movement. Now, you may disagree with that view, but it is surely vital that when it comes to the Brexit referendum, voters know what happens next if Britain chooses to leave.

One possibility is direct single market access via European Economic Area (EEA) membership (the so-called Norway option) as advocated by, for example, the Tory eurosceptic Owen Paterson.

However, it doesn’t appear that this would deliver what many Brexiters say they want: not in terms of sovereignty (Norway has almost no control over the single market rules it must abide by); cost (Norway pays more per head); immigration (there is still free movement of labour in and out of the EEA) or the ability to negotiate third-party free-trade agreements, which it does via the European Free Trade Area (EFTA).

A second scenario is single-market access via EFTA membership by multiple bilateral agreements (the so-called Swiss option), as sometimes argued by UKIP’s only MP, Douglas Carswell. A Brexit on this model would have to negotiate multiple separate agreements (Switzerland has more than 120 which have developed over many years) over an unknown timescale with unknown outcomes.

As with Norway, Switzerland is in large part bound by EU law and regulation. So far as immigration is concerned, the EU Commission is in ongoing dispute with the Swiss approach to free movement of labour and it is simply inconceivable that a UK opt-out on free movement would be granted alongside EFTA membership any more than, as Brexiters rightly say, it could be re-negotiated within the framework of EU membership.

The third scenario is a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU, which is apparently the current UKIP position. It is absolutely crucial to understand that an FTA is not the same as single-market membership. In general, FTAs eliminate tariffs, whereas a single market eliminates non-tariff barriers to trade and harmonises regulation.

A particular difference from the previous scenarios, appealing to some Brexiters, is that an FTA would exempt the UK from free movement of people. But one consequence would be that British people would also lose their rights of free movement within the EU. That includes the 2m or more British people currently working or living in the EU – and the arrangements for them are unknown.

Brits abroad. Chris Marchant, CC BY

Likewise unknown are the consequences for the similar number of EU nationals without British citizenship currently in the UK. Brexit (in the FTA sense) would be a fundamental shift in which Europeans lose their right to move freely to Britain and Britons, both now and in the future, lose their right to move freely around Europe.

Would the EU sign such an FTA? Brexiters sometimes suggest that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty defines terms of exit. In fact, it simply defines the process for exit. The terms would have to be negotiated: not all FTAs are the same and they are not quick. For example, the EU deals with Singapore and South Korea took several years to negotiate.

A UK FTA with the EU would also mean ceasing to have access to those FTAs held between the EU and other countries. In due course the UK might sign new deals. The terms are unknowable, however, and the expectation must be that they will be worse than those the EU has, for simple reasons of market scale.

One of the arguments put forward for Brexit is that EU membership precludes the UK signing its own FTAs. This is correct but there is an obvious reason. If it were allowed for the UK then it would also be possible for any EU nation to sign such a deal. That would in turn give a third-party country access to the single market, which would in turn create a trading relationship with the UK, but in which it had had no say whatsoever – surely highly offensive to eurosceptics.

Buyers’ remorse

These are the three main scenarios, but it is also sometimes said that on exit it will just be a matter of trading on the terms of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). But the WTO does not establish global free trade, which is why individual countries negotiate FTAs within the WTO framework. Of course trade would not cease on Brexit, but the issue is in what volume and on what terms – and what the consequent effects on non-EU inward investment in the UK would be.

Nosing ahead. Eurostar trains line up to head under the Channel. James Butler, CC BY-NC-ND

Alternatively, some float the idea of the UK joining a Commonwealth free-trade area. But there is no such entity and no foreseeable plan to create one. Another suggestion is that the UK could join the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This again is unrealistic: one obvious clue is in the name.

Flirting with fantasies like this does no one any favours. For the debate to be bona fide, we must be absolutely clear which of the different Brexit scenarios is envisaged and not to confuse or conflate them. If not, and the vote is to exit, it will be no good saying afterwards that ‘we didn’t understand what we were voting for’ – the repeated complaint made by eurosceptics about the 1975 Referendum. By then it will be too late.

Christopher Grey is Professor of Organization Studies, Royal Holloway.

This article was originally published here on The Conversation.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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