If you take a cursory glance at British politics over recent weeks, you might be forgiven for assuming that as a Brit you only have two options when it comes to the European Union. Either you are pro-EU and opposed to change, opposed to a referendum and happy with the creeping political union that we are seeing. Or you are Eurosceptic, opposed to everything the EU stands for, opposed to any political union and not only want to see a referendum, but actively want to remove Britain from the bloc. Of course that is not even remotely true: there is not a binary split on Europe, and if you look at the detail there is a whole spectrum of positions and, more to the point, there is a lot to talk about.
The biggest problem that we seem to face when it comes to the debate on Europe is not even one of policy or direction – these are things we can work out through discussion – it is one of labelling. The pro and sceptic positions, beyond presenting a false dichotomy, make it too easy to pigeon-hole people in ways that are not only unfair, but also wildly inaccurate.
My party, the Pirate Party UK, is supportive of a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU. It is in our manifesto and it is the only position we can take given our principles. The reasons for that are obvious: the drive toward greater political union, one accelerated by the recent economic downturn, has the potential to change the EU in a way that was not entirely obvious when we joined. The potentially massive change in our relationship with the EU is something that people must have a say in. As a result we have, on occasion, been labelled as Eurosceptic and frankly, it is a term I would be happy to embrace, if we could shed some of the rather negative baggage that currently comes with it.