Dimitris Rapidis

The withdrawal of the United Kindgom from the European Union and its institutions has stirred up the public discussion lately. The Davos Summit as well as the previous declared intention from UK PM David Cameron to pool Britain outside the EU by launching a referendum until 2017 express the determined spirit of the Tory to design another route for their country during the midst of the financial crisis and the general institutional function of the European establishment. How and mainly Why this decision is going to be a lose-lose game (i.e. in contrary with the win-win game)?

The major concerns of the Tory and personally of Mr. Cameron is that the EU consists of an immense and stiff bureaucratic system where political decisions are often blocked by the established mechanisms for ratification and processing. This is the political context of the Britain’s intention; the economic conditions and the financial stalemate and droubles is the one considered as the most pragmatic one for the UK’s EU policy, and this is where the real agony of Mr. Cameron is based on.

It was almost always the case, but especially now euroscepticism in Britain has grown up rapidly, mainly triggered by the traditional mindset of the Conservative Party which was never a sincere partizan of the EU membership, simply for reasons that rely on the imperial history of Britain and the leverage this country has achieved to establish in the global scene since the 19th century. For the Tory, UK can stand up globally without any intervention of the EU in the field of foreign affairs and trade. The federalization issue was never one of the best topics to discuss with the Conservatives, but there is also another conflicting question in the debate: Does or does not Britain do it well inside the European Union in terms of transactions and investments, especially know that all focus and energy is consumed around austerity politics? In a broader sense, the answer is YES.

By being part of the EU, UK is part of the world’s largest market – an economic zone with a total GDP of 11 trillion pounds, larger than the US and Japanese economy combined. This market of 500 million people offers Britain a wide pool of transcations and investments with no customs tariffs or barriers involved. Along with that, Britain is also benefited from foreign direct investments flows (i.e. FDI), being the fifth larger recipient after the US, China, France and Hong Kong. Along with that, Britain as member-state of the EU also benefits from special social and entrepreneurship programs that are granted by the EU in the framework of its growth and development policy. Even now that the crisis is directly hitting all European markets, the British one continues to remain stable and create now job positions, delivering high-qualified services, and be the place where multinational companies decide to establish their headquarters.

In this respect, the major concern for Mr. Cameron and the Eurosceptics is not that Britain is that dangerously hit by the crisis, but in the contrary it is the decision to disembark from the European ship now that the EU budget is getting even more strict and demanding deeper contribution from the big member-states. In other words, Mr. Cameron wants Britain to abstain from the burden-sharing of economic decline in the EU which comes to be harder due to the side-effects of austerity politics in the Eurozone.

Under this perspective, Mr. Cameron wants to re-negotiate the position of Britain in the EU. The European Union’s major leaders like Angela Merkel and François Hollande will definitely press for keeping UK in the EU and maintaining the actual status; but this also turns to be a major advantage for Britain: the re-negotiation of membership terms towards a looser cooperation will be a tough chessboard, and UK certainly has the upper hand short-term. But long-term, it is a lose-lose game.

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