6.17.2016

WILL THE UK REALLY EXIT THE EUROPEAN UNION? WHAT BREXIT MEANS

On June 1,2016, Impakter published this essay that I wrote after many months of following Brexit, uploading onto Thingser all the articles that I found of interest, over 60 of them (see here - many were - and still are - uploaded by other Thingser members which I found very useful for my research). From my standpoint as a dispassionate observer of political and cultural events, I honestly attempted to really understand Brexit, i.e. Britain's exit from the UK, something that could really happen on 23 June, as the Brits go to vote on the Brexit referendum.

As the date gets nearer and the pro-Brexit camp surges ahead (according to the latest news), this article is ever more relevant and I hope you'll find it useful to understand better what is going and what the real risks are - very high, not just for Europe but also for America. Should the UK choose to leave the EU, the consequences are truly incalculable and devastating, for the UK first, but the rest of the world too.



IMPAKTER ESSAY: THE UGLY SIDE OF BREXIT

STAY IN OR LEAVE THE EU? THE CONSEQUENCES FOR BRITAIN AND THE EU

June 1, 2016

The European Union is facing a perfect storm and possibly its greatest test since its six original members, France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries, began the European Project in 1957 with the signature of the Treaty of Rome.
What the EU did not need at this point was “Brexit”, the possibility of Britain voting to leave the EU on June 23, the date set by Prime Minister Cameron for the referendum on leaving the EU.
Consider the situation:
  • a long-simmering Greek debt crisis that has battered the Euro since 2010 is coming up for yet another call for bailout funds in July with Germany unwilling to consider the only possible solution, i.e. debt relief (as proposed by the IMF);
  • the double-dip recession – a fate the US escaped thanks to the quantitative easing measures taken by the Federal Reserve but that could not be replicated by the European Central Bank due to a relentless German opposition, led by the German Finance Minister Schauble who has a pre-Keynesian fear of inflation and a fixation on “balancing the budget” at all costs;
  • continuing high levels of unemployment everywhere, especially among the young (up to 50 percent in Spain and Greece are jobless) and harrowing poverty in some places (in Greece, the national health system has broken down leaving the poor with no protection);
  • unprecedented flows of refugees, well over one million entering the EU last year, as the war in Syria took a turn for the worse with the Russian bombings.
Even the relatively good news of renewed (if weak) EU growth this year has not succeeded in slowing down the rise of a vicious form of nationalistic populism across the continent. New parties on the extreme right have been loudly calling for a denial of asylum and closure of frontiers. Unfortunately, they have been heard by feckless politicians too fearful to stand up for their convictions (possibly with the exception of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, though she too has lately weakened her stance). And we are seeing this even in countries that not so long ago were very liberal, like the Netherlands and France.
Remarkably, the only country that does not seem to have veered in this ugly direction is Italy – possibly because it was the first EU member to bear the brunt of refugee flows, as far back as 1998, and it has learned to cope with it, all by itself for a long time as other EU members looked on, unwilling to lend a hand.
But this is a small bright spot in the whole picture.
The overall result of all these unfortunate events is inescapable: what was originally a cautious distancing from Brussels and the European Project calling for an ever “closer union”, has now turned into an unbridgeable chasm, as the Schengen rules for visa-free travel are suspended again and again, even between close neighbors with historically friendly relations like Italy and France.

Read the rest on Impakter, click here.
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