After the Brexit referendum

Different interpretations have proposed with respect to the causes of Brexit. John Stevens explains, on Conservativehome, that what really lies behind the referendum result is an issue of inequality within the UK, between old and young, rich and poor, urban and rural, north and south, etc. We should recognize, with Ryan Philipps on OpenDemocracy, that Brexit was not determined by citizens voting against their own interests, but by the rise of anti-immigrant, xenophobic, and nationalistic attitudes, which were not counterbalanced by a responsible and convincing Remain campaign. Indeed, one of the problems is that, as Peter Pomerantsev puts it on Politico.eu, the European project has always been tied with the ideas of the Enlightenment, and thus has always appealed to the head of people rather than to their hearts and emotions. A possible suggestion to overcome the impasse created by the referendum is given by Jürgen Habermas in an interview appeared on Social Europe. He defends the idea of a “core Europe” delimited by the Eurozone, apt to pursue the closer cooperation foreseen in the treaties and to convince the currently polarised populations of all member states that the European project makes sense. But the consequences of Brexit are still very problematic. First, as Will Hutton notes on the Guardian, British science will suffer from the loss of EU funding. Second, there is the problem of the many Europeans currently living in the UK, who have been left fearful and insecure after the referendum, Owen Jones writes on the Guardian. Third, Brexit will have an impact to the single market, which remains a work in progress within which various sectors are far from integrated, The Economist claims. Solutions to such problems are not easy to find. Matthew Sinclair, on Conservativehome, proposes a quid pro quo for a reasonable exit deal, with the UK committing more to the defence of Eastern Europe, to the stability of the Eurozone and the solution of the Schengen Crisis to reassure the EU about its intentions. But, as Wolfgang Münchau writes on the Financial Times, deals are technically complicated for they have to be negotiated chapter by chapter, and so there is no chance that the one between the EU and the UK can be agreed and implemented within two years. And the Norway option does not seem appealing given that, as Liz Alderman shows on The New York Times, Norway is within the single market, but must allow the free movement of people and does not have control over immigration. Moreover, Norway is required to accept every law adopted by Brussels and in the end has just “integration without representation”.

The problems of globalization

The Brexit referendum has stirred up great concerns about the fortune populism is receiving. The problem is by no means local and it is not due to some form of British exceptionalism. As Dennis J. Snower writes on EUROPP, Brexit is only the latest reaction to the process of social disintegration caused by globalisation. Moreover, as Etienne Balibar argues on OpenDemocracy, all the problems the UK is facing are present in all other European countries: the crises of legitimacy, the return to nationalism, and the tendency to project cultural and social unease on an “interior enemy” are widespread within the continent. In this situation, we need a new approach that start from the idea that the basic responsibility of government is to maximise the welfare of citizens, not to pursue some abstract concept of the global good, namely what Larry Summers on Social Europe calls “responsible nationalism”.

It’s the EU economy, baby

There are different reasons to be concerned with the EU economy. On one hand, there is the Italian banking system which seems to be in danger. However, as Nicolas Veron explains on Bruegel, although the challenges faced by Italian banks are complicated, they are very manageable. On the other, there are the perspectives on the TTIP agreement. Gregor Irwin, on Chathamhouse, warns about the risks of such project and highlights how the UK vote has increased them. In line with this idea, Gabriel Siles-Brügge and Ferdi De Ville, on Euractiv, worry that Brexit may lead to a new wave of economic liberalism across Europe with TTIP ensuring further deregulation of the single market. And what about the Euro? Thomas Palley, on Social Europe, defends a financing union alternative to that currently envisaged by the ECB and based on the establishment of a European Public Finance Authority, a Finance Ministry.


This Ideas Monitor is by Giulia Bistagnino and Carlo Burelli


Photo Credits CC: Ineke Oerlemans


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