The Road to Brexit

Paul James Cardwell, on Euractiv, explains Cameron was right in emphasizing that, in a not so distant future, Brexit could lead to a repetition of the horrors of the XXth century. Of course, this is not because the UK alone prevents Europe-wide chaos. Rather, the real risk is that Brexit could lead to the exit of other member states, and, as a consequence, to ever-growing instability and national tensions. On EuObserver, Benjamin Fox disagrees and argues that such an unlikely armageddon may be dismissed by voters as hyperbolic nonsense. Indeed, such arguments just hurt the remain cause. Moreover, there is no need to go as far as invoking the risk of war, when “project fear” can be grounded in more concrete risks deriving from entering uncharted legal and economic waters. Chris Hirst, on, investigates two possible reasons why the negative arguments of “project fear” are prevalent within the Remain side of the Brexit campaign. First, the debate appears dominated by a bitter internal controversy within the conservative party. Second, fear does work on the electorate, as the Scotland referendum proved. Gideon Rachman, on The Financial Times, observes that the referendum has created a curious cleavage among academic historians. The claims made by “Historians for Britain” can essentially be broken down into three words: continuity, moderation, separation as a cultural matrix for the UK. However, other historians disagree. While not many voters may be swayed by this kind of debate, the fracture confirms that the referendum involves delicate matters of national identity, and, when historians diverge like this, the country is undergoing an identity crisis. On the Guardian, Gordon Brown picks up on another view of Britishness which supports the Remain campaign and is more inspiring than the Leave front. Since Britain has always been outward-looking, and engaged with the world, the idea of a people who would not stand aside when Europe was in mortal danger and intervened to make sure tyranny never triumphed is just contradictory. Paul Embery, on Opendemocracy, wonders what possible reason socialists have to be against Brexit. He points out that the EU is committed to a free market fanaticism, and, contrary to Labour’s claims that it protects workers’ rights, its neo-liberal agenda promotes a flexible labour market, weakens collective bargaining agreements, and undermines the right to work with austerity-induced unemployment.

The political and economic future of the EU

Two major political actors of last year Greek bailout agreement were extensively interviewed this week. On Handelsblatt, Gabor Steingart talks with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. The discussion tackles the Greek debt crisis, the European refugee drama and sociologist Max Weber’s ethic of responsibility. Very different in tone and content is Michel Fehrer’s interview to ex-Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, on Opendemocracy. These conversations clearly reflects the different outlooks on Grexit and austerity, the refugee crisis and the democratization of the EU the two interviewed hold. Benjamin Braun, on Social Europe, analyzes Schäuble’s claim that the ECB is responsible for right-wing AfD success. While he finds that losses from QE and low interest rates are likely to be higher in Germany, blaming the ECB is wrong because resolving the current crisis require macro-economic adjustments. Since the German government refused to boost public investment, raise the demand for capital, put upward pressure on interest rates, and ease the adjustment pressure on more vulnerable countries, Draghi had no other choice. Moreover, on Social Europe, Francesco Sylos Labini suggests that austerity policies impacted massively on research and investments spending in Mediterranean countries. The resulted brain drain is expected to severely impact future growth in these regions, thereby aggravating the divergence with northern country. On Corriere della Sera, Danilo Taino, illustrates the project of a “great compromise” on economic issues, the refugee crisis, and the relations with Russia. The point is also crucial for his interview with Norbert Röttgen. The idea is that there is no need for a new institutional treaty, which is not a realistic goal at the moment. Nonetheless, an agreement among G7 member states is necessary to push through common policies on these delicate issues and to stop political fragmentation.

Refugees and the Deal with Turkey

On Euractiv, Solon Ardittis argues that the EU was right at postponing visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens until Ankara fulfils its part of the migrant deal. However, it is advisable to work out a viable “Plan B” in case the deal is rejected by Turkey’s authorities. Similarly, Guy Verhofstadt, on Social Europe, argues that the keys to the EU need to be taken back from Erdogan. In order to do this, Europe needs a genuine European asylum and immigration strategy, cost guard and border force, and legal access for refugees.

This Ideas Monitor is by Giulia Bistagnino and Carlo Burelli

Photo Credits CC: Lif…

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