Fact Check - Switzerland and the EU
By Alan Russell
I don't very often get riled enough to write something as critical as this about politics and the use of social media as Omar quite often expresses my opinions for me in his diaries. However, the picture above was circulated by a friend on Facebook and I believe should be countered constructively.
It makes claims that Switzerland is doing better than the UK and links that higher success rate to not being in the EU without citing where the data for the claims has come from. As I have a bit of time I thought, hummmmmm, this might need a bit of deconstruction; so here goes working from the bottom upwards.
Yes, Switzerland does rank first in the global index of innovation with a score of 67.7 and the UK has a score of 60.9. One of the differences between the two countries is that the UK is in the EU and Switzerland is not so it could be true that the EU has restricted the UK’s ability to innovate. But how does that conclusion hold up when we can see that The Netherlands with a score of 63.4 and Sweden with a score of 63.8 are ahead of the UK and are both in the EU?
The source is:
GDP PER CAPITA
The IMF, World Bank and the CIA do not put Switzerland at the top of any international tables for GDP per capita. Switzerland 9th, 7th and 11th in those tables respectively. The UK is 26th, 21st and 30th. The UK is in the EU but Switzerland is not so it could again be true that the EU has restricted the development of GDP per capita. But how can that be true? In the IMF table where the UK is 26th, The Netherlands 13th, Germany 17th and Ireland 5th. They are all in the EU.
The source is:
Switzerland does have the second highest level of wages in the world. Yippee, let’s all go there to work and live and then come home millionaires. I don’t think so. Integrally linked with having the 2nd highest wages in the world Switzerland also has the second highest cost of living in the world.
ADOPTS 0% OF EU RULES
Switzerland has adopted various provisions of EU rues and regulations in order to have access to the EU single market. Switzerland adopted the European Free Trade Association with all of its rules and regulations back in 1972. Switzerland has bilateral agreements with the EU over the free movement of people, air traffic, road traffic, agriculture, technical trade, public procurement and science.
The source is:
EXPORTS 5X MORE TO THE EU THAN THE UK
In 2016 Switzerland’s exports to the EU totalled $120bn which for fair comparisons I will convert to £ at the average $/£exchange rate for that year of $1.35/£. In £ terms that equates to £89bn. So, from the claim in the picture I would expect the UK exports to the EU to be between £16bn and £18bn. Not so as the UK Government website shows exports to the EU were, wait for it with a dramatic drum roll…………………………£240bn which is in fact 15 times more than Switzerland.
By now I had given up the will to look into the other three claims at the top of the picture.
I leave it to you to decide if the original post about Switzerland, the EU and comparisons with the UK is correct or not?