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Bucharest
February 25, 2021
EDITORIAL

Brexit: Three weeks before

The countdown can begin. Three weeks remained until June 23, when the British referendum on the UK’s position related to EU (namely if it will continue to be e Member State or not) will take place. This decision of the British electorate caused rivers of ink and electromagnetic waves until now, since the British Media, as well as the international one, have been focused quite often in the last months on the consequences of one result of the referendum or another.

While Brexit is a much discussed political issue in UK, since its ensemble of questions have captured the whole attention of the political establishment, massively reverberating among voting people, the same matter combined (almost to the identity) with the positions towards the crisis which affects EU since years. More precisely, since the beginning of the economic recession, which started in 2008, and which is not yet completely reabsorbed. We have asked ourselves, trying to find an answer, in what extent is EU concerned about this matter, if the much circulated assertions saying that Brexit is an existential crisis of EU, or if the predominant “out” result of the referendum would seal for good the organization’s destiny, causing the beginning of its dissolution, are indifferent to the European electorate, as some of us may guess or believe.

It is well understood that the dispute is extremely intense in UK, especially now, on the eve of the referendum, when groups have became established and solid, when there are Twitter accounts especially designed to the “out” option, where the partisans are sending their opinions all the time, trying to acquire as much followers as they can. It’s interesting to notice that on this Twitter account, the opponents also interfere (or at least to be quoted by the others). At the time when I am writing this (May 30 in the afternoon), I’ve watched a sample of democratic confrontation. One of the “out” fans, for instance, quotes an opponent, saying that “therein lies the Leaves campaigners’ problem. They want revolution but they haven’t the first clue what will happen one day, one year, one decade later”.

The one who mentioned this position appreciates it to be  “fun and fair”, but replies: “One problem: can Remain pls tell us what will happen if we stay?” Another Brexit partisan had the courage to predict: “if #Brexit vote, then UK Gov’t would negotiate trade agreement with EU. Minimal disruption, great future.” Few days earlier (May 23), the new Mayor of London was writing on his page that: “I am flying the EU flag & Union flag with pride to symbolize my position on Europe”, so he is a partisan of the “remain” group. A BBC twitter dated May 30 was saying that “Sadiq Khan/ the new Mayor/ joins David Cameron to urge EU Remain vote”, since the Mayor of London chose to be in the same group with the Prime-Minister, thus sending a signal to those who recently voted him in the position of the Mayor of such an important Capital at global level.

Lawrence Freedman, a well-known veteran of the strategy surveys, professor emeritus at King’s College, is asking himself on his page, alluding to certain positions related to the new EU security strategy which is subject to the current debate: “We have a veto. How actually do you integrate UK forces into ‘EU Army’ against UK will? Please explain mechanism.” Two days later, another renowned strategist, Julian Lindley French, replies to him on his blog: “for the moment a ‘European army’ would exist in name only, with EDU/ European defense Union / yet another paper exercise built on more empty defence acronyms, leading to yet another European force that is at best able to undertake some crisis management operations, but little more. Is the EU building an army? No, not yet. In future? Who knows?”

Therefore, debate is calm in UK, with groups weighting their chances, with a lot of surveys, whose results are immediately overturned by others – an analysis of the most recent several dozen surveys indicate  a comfortable average of the predominant “remain” group, which in its turn is questionable, according to a good democratic tradition of Westminster. What about Europe? In order to highlight several features of our EU partners, I’ve chosen the easy way of noticing the current topic of Brexit in some of the important European countries, either by following the Twitter accounts of some newspapers or magazines of wide circulation in that country, or of some prominent personalities. In France, I had to hardly search for the twitters of “Le Monde”, previous to the writing date, in order to find a reference to Brexit.

The first one that I found was only on May 20, after many mentions of the events which took place, from the crash of the Egyptian aircraft in the Mediterranean Sea to the awards of the Cannes Film Festival, or to the large demonstrations which overwhelmed France to protest against the new Labor law (introducing the Anglo – Saxon model). It was referring to an interview of the President of European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, who stated that “Deserters will not be welcome with the hands wide open”. In this interview, the head of the European Government was mentioning that if British people will say “No” to the referendum, therefore sanctioning the exit from EU, the communitarian life will never be the same. UK will have to accept to be deemed as a third-party state. “This is not a threat – said Juncker -, but our further relations cannot be the same as today”.

In Germany, the interest seems to be higher, according to the chosen survey. In the international edition of “Der Spiegel” magazine, there is an article which was published on May 28, stating that EU prepares itself to take the necessary measures for an appropriate reply to a possible Brexit. Foreign Ministers of the 6 founding states of EU in 1957 (FORMER European Community) have met to discuss what are they going to do in the after Brexit. The conclusion was that there will be 2 years of difficult negotiations with UK, which will try, on the one hand, to continue to be the beneficiary of the special relation with EU, but on the other hand to maintain its freedom of action/the sovereignty in key issues. At the meeting from May 27, it was underlined that solidarity becomes a usual term inside EU. In Italy, on May 30, the Twitter page of “La Stampa” draws the attention on the “G-7 alarm”, namely that “(UK’s) exiting from Europe is a global danger”, representing a shock for the world economy, that the international instability will grow due to the geopolitical conflicts, to the migration influxes and to the economic shock caused by a possible Brexit. I will not stop before quoting an assertion posted on Twitter by the Swedish diplomat Carl Bildt, who wrote on May 29, related to a recent article published by “The Guardian”, that “Economists often disagree – but they evidently agree that leaving the EU would seriously damage the UK economy.” The former Swedish PM referred to the news according to which 9 out of 10 top economists from UK believe that England’s economy would suffer if Brexit would happen. Europe is confident that the seriousness of the British electorate will give the proper answer at the referendum which will take place on June 23, but also that an unexpected result will be reabsorbed by EU through solidarity and confidence in the future.

 

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