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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April 2005, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
UK voters' panel: Vanessa Walters

MEET THE PANEL
Vanessa Walters
Name: Vanessa Walters
Age: 27
Lives: Walthamstow, London
Works: Writer
Current voting intention: Labour
In 10 words or less:
"Single city dweller into art and people"

I believe that Britain should be a part of the European Union.

I don't hold much truck with protest parties aiming to divorce Britain from the EU.

I agree that there are a lot of troubles looming ahead. But it's like a marriage - it takes work.

Issues like working hours must be resolved to protect Britain's economy.

It's also an unequal partnership. Higher unemployment in other member countries means people flooding to Britain for jobs.

However you take the rough with the smooth.

There are a lot of benefits for Britons, not just the protection of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) or the freedoms enshrined in the constitution but also specifically for the individual.

VOTERS' PANEL: EUROPE

There are funding, education, business and travel opportunities.

As someone who has studied in Europe, worked in Europe and received funding from European bodies, I have experienced these opportunities first hand.

What is an issue for me is the negative perception of Europe in this country.

After the election it will be Labour's job to 'sell' Europe to Britons in a way that empowers them, rather than making them feel railroaded into something that they don't understand.


Your comments:

Like it or not, we are geographically part of Europe and, having lived in Europe for 13 years, I am a firm believer in the concept of the EU. Although I also believe that it could be far better organised and run - but so could our own government. What concerns me is that there is so much ignorance - and emotional hype - in the UK over the issue of Europe. Perhaps this is not surprising given the massive anti-EU bias of most of the media.
David , Harpenden

Your own country can and does provide the same "benefits" to you as the EU, and more besides. The EU funding that you have received has come originally from the UK taxpayer, since we are net contributors to the EU budget. If we were outside of the EU we could pass any laws that we wished, including those on Human Rights. So being inside the EU is no different from being outside the EU in that sense. Have we lost the desire to run our own lives?
Stephen Farndon, Manchester, UK

There are problems yes (like the CAP and no elected executive) but we've got to be active members to do anything about it.
Richard Carter,

I also like Europe (for holidays, culture, and so on) but I think Brussels is unaccountable and a danger to democracy in this country. My sincere hope is that it will reform itself, but I doubt that will happen. Self-improvement of powerful institutions is rare without democracy.
Jonathan Rigby, Northwich, Cheshire, UK

I am delighted that Vanessa regards Europe as an important issue and also speaks as a "European". I have lived in Sweden, Germany and Belgium, for a total of 17 years of my adult life, and it makes me very angry when people speak from a position of total ignorance about how things are done in other countries or at a European level. Obviously there are worries about the future development of the EU but joining together with other countries is the only way forward.
Barbara Forbes, Birmingham

The facts of neither economics nor law are on Vanessa's side. Many people coming to Britain to work is a good thing. It is a sign we are economically healthier than other parts of Europe, not that we are in need of protection. The ECHR is a separate institution from the EU, and Britain was a founder member many years before joining the Treaty of Rome project. Leaving the EU would have no effect on either. Though admittedly it might limit "funding" opportunities for those who wish to live off the European taxpayer.
Guy Herbert, London, England

The European Convention on Human Rights is nothing to do with the EU. It comes from the framework of the Council of Europe which was established in 1949, eight years before the Treaty of Rome and 24 years before the UK joined the EU.
Adam Isaacs, Brussels, Belgium





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