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Disclaimer: I am from Germany.
on 23 June 2016, the electorate of the UK will be voting over the future of the UK membership in the European Union. A historic day,
independent of the result. As a german with political interest, I would like to share my opinion on the matter and - hopefully - incite an
interesting discussion. Should I happen to offend anyone with this text, please accept my sincere apologies as this was not my
Why I am hoping for an exit vote:
It might have educational value for both the EU and the UK
For the EU: There is no arguing over the fact that quite some EU officials believe a bit to much that the world revolves arround them.
That belief might be painfully shaken if the UK shows them the middle finger. While arround as pleasant as getting a left hook from
one of the Klitschko brothers, once the dust settles, we may finally have an honest discussion in ALL member countries about what
the EU is supposed to be and what the people really want. The notoriously bureaucratic EU officials will have little say in that. Once a
that debate concluded, a renewed united europe could move on, into a brighter future. One with less red tape and officials still being
freshly reminded that "No, you cannot do every crap and get away with it". Because yes, the EU has many flaws and this might make
an great opportunity to get rid of some of those.
For the UK: Realistically, if the majority of the UK electorate votes for a continued stay in the EU, the people who want to leave the
EU wont just go away. Instead the UK would have to suffer their political pressure for the decades to come, annoying not only pro
europeans citizens of the UK but also straining UK - EU relations. Make no mistake, many EU citizens are already annoyed at the
special treatment that the UK receives right now. Strained relations however mean that the rest of the EU members may feel less
need to have considerations about violating UK citizens interest. Which might trigger a second referendum, this time successful that
will at this time weaken the EU much more in terms of global power, because several nations of the world will raise to superpower
level in the next few decades. Having this old issue still not resolved is not in anyones interest. On the other hand, if the UK decides
to quit now, the "Quit the EU now" supporters will have ample time to test their theories in practise. Now longer could anyone make
claims about "we are better off out" because you now are out and everybody will have first hand experience about the real advantages
and disadvantages. So if it would turn out that leaving the EU was a mistake, and the UK rejoins the EU after a decade or so, the
political capital of the "UK out of Europe" would be destroyed. As such, the renewed UK-EU membership relations would probably be
on much better terms. Which would benefit everyone as the world does indeed not revolve arround europe and that makes a unified
voice more importantly with every passing decade.
It might help the rest of europe to move towards closer integration
In the past few decades Great Britain has not been exactly to fond of closer integration. With the UK out of the picture, the core
european nations might seek to move towards even closer integration. Which might bring the UK in a very unfavourable position should
they ever rejoin. They may face a much more unified and integrated europe that has much more self-confidence which might not be to
keen on granting any special treatment for the returning member.
It will allow remaining EU countries to impose sanctions, next time we catch a british intelligence agency red handed
The UK got away very lightly in the Snowden scandal. Being in the same union does have disadvantages indeed. Should they decide
to quit and should another scandal like that happen, the public fallout might make some politicians moving towards sanctions against
the UK. While any sanctions hurt both sides, the power disparity between the remaining EU and the UK would put the UK at a
significant disadvantage. Especially germans tend to take date privacy very seriously and an goverment that failed miserably in
protecting those needs against the USA, may see this as an great opportunity to gain additional support, because the UK is indeed
not the USA. Not that this justifies the spineless corwardice after the Snowden relevations, but I am rambling offtopic.
It would allow the EU to impose a real tax on financial transactions and fight tax heavens more
So far the the UK - in protection of its important banking business - was always on the brake in terms of taxation on financial
transactions. With the UK out of any influence inside the EU, the remaining member states might finally be capable of putting such a
tax into law. Considering that several tax heavens are basically british, the protection from sanctions currently blocked by the UK will
vanish as the EU membership of the UK.
It might benefit continental european businesses in the midterm
While at first the loss of the UK would be a blow to europas economy, the worse market access of UK companies means less
competition and as such more opportunities for continental companies. While in the longterm, this is bad for everybody (less
competion means less innovation and worse quality of products for the customer) at least in the midterm, continental companies will
benefit. Not in the least because a lot of investment currently flowing to London will be relocated to continental europe due to better
Why I think that a united europe is a necessity in the mid to longterm
Political development and global situation in the 21st century.
“Nations have no friends, they only have interests.”
This sentence sadly pretty much sums up the global situation right now. Over 70 years after its foundation, the UN at best can offer
mediocre protection to weaker nations and is often ignored. The law of the jungle dominates much of the current nation states affairs
and this law is a law of the strongest. We are faraway from the vision of Gene Roddenberry of a united humankind, that lives in peace
together on this world.
As such, if you want to serve the needs of your own people, you often will face challenges by nations who have contrary interests.
Without any major - enforcable - international law, it in the end usually comes down to who can wield more power that will decide the
outcome of your politics. Of course having allies can help in that regard, but your allies are usually not above "Nations have no friends,
they only have interests.". And as such, getting a help request from "enter small insignificant nation here" will not be particular high on
For example, a few years ago the german goverment bought a CD that contained data about people evading tax. The Swiss
Confederation - which hold most of the black moneys accounts in one of their banks, protested severly. Which makes sense, if half
your economy is running on tax evasion, you can have no interest in making tax evasion more unpopular in your country.
Only that the protest fell on deaf ears. At the end of the day, the Swiss Confederation is far to small, far to insignificant to be capable
of imposing any meaningfull sanctions onto Germany. While they technically could impose sanctions that would hurt Germany, the
return sanctions would hurt the Swiss Confederation far more.
And as such, even when Germany bought several more CDs, the Swiss Goverment find itself in the very unpopular situation to have to
explain to its people that it in fact, cannot do ANYTHING against that. Even if it means loosing jobs in the Swiss Confederation. The
stronger nation used its superior power to crush the interest of a weaker nation. Not out of malice, but because of contrary interests.
Now... consider that the Swiss Confederation and Germany have generally quite amiable relations. And yet, that was not enough for
the German Goverment not to humiliate the Swiss Confederation. Now lets imagine for a second that instead of the Swiss
Confederation, France had been the tax heaven in question. France is a great power and stepping on their toes seems much more
unwise because you are not going to shrug off any counter sanctions as easily as the swiss ones.
But why is this relevant to the UK? It is a great power, too
Yes, it is. But the time of great powers having substantial world political influence is coming to an end. Primarly because new
superpowers are on the rise. The 20th century was the century of the western powers, first Europe and then the USA. An
technological development advantage allowed the western powers to dominate much of the earth in this century. But developing
countries will catch up and they are in hot pursuit already.
So after the bipolar world of the cold war and the unipolar world after that, changes are very high that the future world will be multipolar.
A multipolar world of super powers.
Superpowers like China.... India, Russia, potentially Brazil. And while potentially in decline, for a good amount of time the USA, too.
The cold reality is, that not a single one of all the european countries in the EU today is powerful enough to compete with the current
and upcoming super powers. The best those single countries can hope to achieve in the world of tomorrow is the state of vassal
states. So instead of taking orders from a future unified european goverment, a goverment you will have at least some say in, you
may find yourself taking orders from Washington D.C, Moscow, Beijing, New Delhi or maybe even Brasília? Whatever superpower it
will be, it is a safe bet that the interests of your people are not a primary concern for those superpowers. Probably not even a
secondary, but rather a tertiary, if any at all.
Consider the example of the USA. After the end of the cold war the USA remain for the time being the only superpower. The nearly
unipolar world of today. With their arch enemy Russia out of the picture for now, they could now freely wield that power to further their
own interests. And they did so, and they were hardly feigning interest in what their european "partners" thought about that. With
Russia no longer being in the picture, there was no further need for considerateness on their part. While there was and still is
cooperation on affairs of mutual interest, if there is something the USA want, they get it. European interest being nearly irrelevant.
Back then when the were rumours about Edward Snowden being aboard the Bolivians president aircraft, the "sovereign" nations of
europe outbid each other in preemptive obedience. They rejected the necessary overflying rights. Once landed in the austrian capital
of Wien, an unlawful search for Snowden was conducted.
Snowden revealed that the USA were heavily spying on their european "allies". It had been in the national interest of any european
country to support Snowden. Instead they throw national interest and the interests of their citizens out of the window. All for the
benefit of the USA.
That is the current state of european national sovereignity. To puss it out, the moment the big brother over the atlantic makes
demands. Keep waving your national flags, but make no mistake, the most important decisions about your welfare are not made by
your elected goverment, or the EU, they are made in Washington DC. Unelected by you. Unaccountable by you. And responsible
only for the welfare of the american people, not yours.
And this is very bitter for every human being living in europe. Yet, what is the alternative? Again, not a single one of the european
countries is powerful enough for itself to do anything meaningfull about this. And it is not like the other choice, coming under russian
influence is in any way more compelling. I certainly dont want that Putin has more influence in my life. But I dont want the current US
influence either as this "leadership" is decidedly on the abusive side and little good comes from it. And this although the USA is a
democracy and at least on paper shares similar values.
No. European future does not lie in subordination to the USA or Russia. And should we continue on this path, I am certain that we will
all pay a heavy price for it. Economically and security wise. And yet, the single european nations may have no choice, but
subordination. Unless they get their act together in the next few decades and speak with a unified voice. At least on common matters
and interests. A voice that is democratically elected and accountable to the people. A justified point of criticism of the current system.
And yet, if you want that the European parliament is democratically elected and matters, you have to give it some meaningfull powers.
A power that can only come from lessening the powers of national parliaments in areas of common policy. Such a transfer or
sovereign power is only acceptable if the protection of democracy and inviolable human rights is ensured.
I am a fond supporter of European Unity. And even human unity. And I would be willing to pay a high price for that goal. But not any
price. A not sufficiently democratically accountable european super state is unacceptable.
My personal vision of a future Europe would be a Federation. A federation that wields the combined power of its citizens in its outside
affairs. A federation that wields that power to the betterment of humanity as a whole. A federation that does not squeeze the national
identiy of the people. A federation that stands strong for democracy and human rights. A Federation that protects common values, but
one that does not regularise every fine detail of everybody's life. That is what national parliaments and municipal councils are for.
Which are accountable to their voters, too. A federation, that maybe... in the very long term, will even invite a democratically russia
into its ranks. Although I am not sure if we should do this, I mean some die hard ultra right wing could die from stroke if they receive
Why I think that the UK will suffer in the longterm, should they vote out and stay out of Europe.
I mentioned above why I think that a temporary leaving of the EU could benefit both the UK and the EU. However, a longterm or even
permanent leave is an entirely different topic.
Having a say in single market policy
Leaving the EU is leaving the single market. While it is likely, that a new deal will be made, it is quite unlikely that the UK would enjoy
any particular special treatment in those negotiations.
The EU has currently 28 member countries and has an estimated 508,191,116 people living in it.
The UK has a population of 64,716,000 people.
The EU without the UK would have arround 443,475,116 people.
That is "only" 6.85 times the population. And only 28 goverments (27 remaining member states and the EU itself) to convince to act
against their own interest by granting the UK special treatment.
UK businesses risk to loose access to 443 million potential customers.
EU businesses only risk to loose access to 64 million potential customers.
Take a guess who is in the better bargaining position?
This power disparity will not only make it difficult for the UK to achieve its negotiating goals, but it will also make sure that any
neglecting of the treaty obligations on the UK side will be meet with
[URL="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/student-reporter/switzerland-and-the-eu-th_b_5003363.html"]substantial repercussions. [/URL]
Even if the UK would be allowed to have access to the free market, this will not be without costs. Just like the Swiss Confederation
and Norway, you can expect to send several billions a year to the EU, for this privilege. Money, over which use, you will have
absolutely no say. Add the lost EU monetary support for your population to the equation and I very much doubt you will save much, or
anything at all.
The vast majority of EU policy and regulations concern the single market. And as such the UK will have to obey them, inside EU or
Access to the single market is something the UK badly needs, a fact admitted even by staunch BREXIT supporters. But with access
to this market comes the rules of this market. And one of the most important rules of this market is the free movement of people and
The popular and often cited polish plumber would still be allowed to do business anywhere where he pleases in the UK. The EU
probaly would never accept an treaty that did not entail this right, as this is what makes the single market.
If the UK does not like that, they are of course free to leave the single market. And while that certainly will hurt european economy
somewhat, it will be a far cry from the repercussions for the british economy. There is no question who has more staying power here.
The bureaucratic regulation is exactly the same topic. You want access to the single market? You WILL obey every single damm
piece of regulation made in Brussels... regulation you will have absolutely no say about anymore.... and you WILL obey it down to the
very last letter. If you dont, no market access. Want to help your ailing automotive industry by lowering environmental standards? Go
ahead, you are an free sovereign state after all. Just dont expect to sell any of those cars on the european single market. 10000 jobs
on the line in the UK? The EU does not care. Not anymore than the German Goverment cared about the banking jobs in the Swiss
Confederation when they bought that CD about tax evasion. No, politics are not nice. They are quite shark-infested waters.
"Nations dont have friends. They just have interests." It would be wise, to make sure that the interest of the european union is affected
by the interest of the british people. The best way to assure that, is to stay inside, or better rejoin after everybody has learned his
lesson. As a member state, you carry significant political weight. Remember the current british EU discount that totals to arround 110
billions of savings in the decades since the Iron Lady "persuaded" the europeans back then. A persuasion that probably involved quite
some "handbagging". and which was only possible because the UK is an important member state. Again, politics are not for the faint
of heart. Or what about Cameron tries of renogation with the EU? How many concessions shall the EU make to appease the wanting
to leave EU camp? I dont think that there can be any serious concessions because any special treatment of the UK will make other
member states also want to have special rights. What the UK got so far, is the end of the line. Any more concessions are probably
not communicable to the voters in rest of europe.
You are not the Swiss Confederation and leaving something is not the same as not joining something
When the electorate of the Swiss Confederation showed the "join the EU" plan the middle finger, the following negotiations between
the EU and the Swiss Confederation were based on the mutual understanding that if the Swiss people are to be convinced to join next
time, we better be nice to them. As such the EU was rather generous on the terms of the treaty. Same for Norway.
On the other hand, if the UK quits, it would be against the most basic of european union interest to show generosity on the terms of
any potential new treaty: You cannot reap all the benefits of a club without helping the clubs funding and its common goals. If
the EU would be stupid enough to give the UK all or most of the benefits without adding considerable costs, then the british exit might
very well trigger a chain reaction. Europe can survive the UK leaving, but it may not survive several member states quiting and then
getting similar benefits as remaining members. Should europe really be this foolish, maybe Putin doesnt sound so bad anymore.
So, if the UK slams the door shut, this time those negotiations will most likely be all about cold calculations and I would not expect a
particular friendly welcome for the UK on the negotiation table. Neither would I expect a particular high willingness of the remaining EU
The Scotish question
The scotish referrendum was a quite close call. With all polls seeing the scots as more pro european, an UK exit vote may very will
trigger another referrendum, this time possible a successful one. Which would not only be a severe blow to the UK but might make
other parts of the UK also go seperate ways.
Will the UK leave the EU?
I would estimate that while it will be decidedly to close for comfort that a majority of the electorate will vote for the UK staying the the
I want to again point out that this post is not meant to offend anyone and If I did so, please accept my sincere
What do you think?
Will the UK stay or will they quit?
Where do you see the future of europe?
Do you agree with me or disagree?
May the discussion be civil and enlightening.