The state of the Union

In the aftermath of Brexit, George Soros claims, on OpenDemocracy, that European leaders should recognize their own mistakes and their responsibility with respect to the democratic deficit of the EU, which has had a fundamental impact on the referendum. From now on, it seems that EU integration will inevitably become à la carte, in the sense that each member state will decide the degree of sovereignty to share, as it is noted on clingendael. But Brexit needs not to be considered a disastrous event. Rather, it is an opportunity. Brian M. Carney, on Politico.eu, writes that the British vote may turn into some form of political introspection in Bruxelles, and eventually in the building of a more democratic and accountable EU, which will be more stable and inclusive. Mary Fitzgerald, on OpenDemocracy, shares this point and urges the EU to hear the cry of European citizens, both from the Left and the Right, for more democracy. Only a change in this direction can defeat Eurosceptic, populist parties, and invocations of new referenda, as that of Marine Le Pen. This is the reason why the EU in general, and Germany in particular, will not give concessions to Britain, as Juliet Samuel notes on The Telegraph: there is a need to stop an outbreak of referendum fever across the continent. Shayn McCallum reinforces this point on Social Europe arguing that the game of European integration has changed and that any future project for the EU needs to take people’s legitimate concerns about their own societies into account. The EU cannot be an elite project only anymore. As The Economist writes, defenders of globalization must acknowledge that technocrats have made mistakes, that ordinary people have paid the price and, thus, that they are justified to be angry. A successful strategy to avoid disintegration is to secure a new positive vision of global solidarity in Europe, apt to respond to insecurity and societal atrophy, Magda Stoczkiewicz writes on OpenDemocracy. More specifically, Vivien Schmidt, on Social Europe, argues that it is important to achieve more integration, in particular by securing and reinforcing the current free movement by putting into place solidarity mechanisms. In particular, she defends a “EU mobility adjustment fund”, apt to support those countries with great migrant worker inflows.

The state of the United Kingdom

According to the Editorial Board of the Guardian, Britain is in its deepest political crisis since the second world war: the country seems ungovernable because the referendum allowed citizens to turn down the status quo without providing any form of assent for anything to replace it. The future seems difficult not only to predict, but also to decide, given the difficulties in which British politicians find themselves. Within the Labour camp, there is deep disagreement about whether Jeremy Corbyn should leave because of his incapacity to win general elections, as Alexander Ewing writes on OxPol, or maintain the leadership in order to secure a party that is closely connected to trade unions, activists, and people in general, as Bruno Leipold replies also on OxPol. The Conservative party is not in great shape either. However, Tim Bale on Conservativehome argues that Brexit could be beneficial to the party. From his point of view, Conservatives can show that they can keep up their promises, and get a grip on immigration and protect public services. Moreover, leaving the EU will allow the Conservatives to stop worrying about it and using its problems as an excuse not to deliver reforms. In the end and despite party politics, it is crucial to make globalization work for Britain, and quickly ensure British future relationships with Europe, Gordon Brown states on the Guardian.

The state of the economy after Brexit

After the referendum, market reactions have been violent. However, now that some days have passed, markets have paused and gained new strength. The reason for this change, as Guntram B. Wolff explains on Bruegel, has to do with the fact that many promises made during the referendum have already been broken, and that it is probable that the UK will become like Norway, a country which is a full member of the single market with full labour mobility. Some disagree on this point. For example, Raoul Ruparel, on Conservativehome, writes that the Norway option would disappoint Leavers’ concerns precisely because those who voted to leave the EU are worried about immigration and sovereignty. In this sense, it would be better to have a comprehensive free trade agreement with a more controlled immigration. However, if the UK will not secure a Norway deal and exit the internal market, it will lose passporting rights for financial services and access to euro clearing and settlement, Dirk Schoenmaker argues on Bruegel. This would constitute a serious threat for London, intended as a financial centre, focused on banking and trading sectors.

The state of democracy

Philip Allott, on the Guardian, puts forward an interesting argument stating that the there is evidence that the decision to exit the EU is not legal and, thus, that the UK will just stay within the EU. The point is one of legitimacy: given that a withdrawal would affect the legal situation of every person in the UK, and that of many other people elsewhere, a court may conduct a judicial review to determine whether such exercise of power can be considered legitimated. Moreover, there are doubts about the very nature of referenda with respect to democracy. Slavoj Zizek, interviewed on OpenDemocracy, states that referenda are impractical for transnational challenges and the only solution for the problems of the EU is to solve its shortcomings in dealing with societal challenges. Garvan Walshe, on Conservativehome, agrees and warns his readers that democratic fundamentalism may turn out to be the most serious threat to freedom: the invocation of popular sovereignty runs against the idea that, for democracy to function, it needs to be based on judgments and evidence, rather than prejudice and emotion. Carol Cadwalladr, on the Guardian, agrees and argues that the democracy of the referendum was based on fear, ignorance, and manipulation.


This Ideas Monitor is by Giulia Bistagnino and Carlo Burelli


Photo Credits CC: charamelody 


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