The third sector is better off in Europe


Maggie Lennon explains why she believes Scotland's third sector will seriously miss the EU if Britain votes to leave

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24th February 2016 by TFN Guest 1 Comment

Maggie Lennon

Maggie Lennon

I have no confidence that money the UK might save from our EU contribution will be redistributed to support third sector projects

I am disappointed that the debate around Europe so far has focussed mostly on business: who supports an in or an out result and migration.

Not because the economy or migration are unimportant, but because the former, the business case, is only part of the issue and the latter, migration is never discussed positively in a European context, notwithstanding the positive net contribution migrants – especially those from Europe – make to our economy.

When business complains about the “red tape” from Brussels what they are talking about is the raft of progressive workers rights that Europe has ensured UK companies must adhere to, and which ultimately ensures our workforce is not exploited. These regulations are particularly important for the third sector whose workforce is disproportionately made up of women, part-time workers and those furthest from the labour market and who are often discriminated against. These are some of the groups who are most protected.

Then of course there is the funding from Europe, both in terms of ESF and transnational funding. From a Bridges perspective without European funding and the additional monies that this levers into the Scottish economy through match funding requirements, Bridges would have closed a long time ago. I have no confidence that money the UK might save from our EU contribution will be redistributed to support third sector projects when the current UK government is so firmly wedded to privatisation and selling them off to the lowest tender.

Likewise can we seriously trust the current UK government to ensure workers’ rights and human rights stay apace with our neighbours in Europe of their own accord? History wouldn’t suggest so. Bridges Programmes work extensively across Europe sharing our methodologies and good practices with others and learning a lot in the process all for the good of our end users.

So the next time you are enjoying one of your statutory minimum 28 days holiday, or are off sick, or are on your paid lunch break and wonder what did Europe ever do for me? The answer is plenty, and you’ll miss it when it’s gone

Maggie Lennon is founder and director of the Bridges Programmes promoting the social and economic integration and inclusion of asylum seekers refugees and migrants


26th February 2016 by Claire

What this translates to is that you don't believe that the people of the UK will vote to support workers' rights or third sector organisations if they are not forced to do so by the EU. That isn't democracy in action, that is dictatorship, something which should be anathema to all of those who work in the third sector.