Daniel Gueguen

Brexit, rightly seen as inadvisable, will turn out to be impossible both technically and politically.

Far from destroying the EU, Brexit is a chance to re-launch it by creating a two-circle community: a circle based on Eurozone integration and a circle for the Single Market. Everyone would benefit from this.

I do not agree with the nightmare scenarios predicting the worst for both the United Kingdom and the EU. It is hard to see how a UK withdrawal would be extremely negative for economic activity and growth on either side of the Channel. There will be adjustments in terms of currency, financial services and property, but of a limited and short-term nature.

 

The real problems posed by the UK-EU split are three-fold

First, space and time. A new Prime Minister, a new majority, probably new elections. Already the triggering of Article 50 is being pushed back; the more it is postponed, the less likely it is.

Then there are the technical difficulties. Looking for example at the Common Agricultural Policy, Brexit not only involves cutting off thousands of EU regulations, but also creating new ones on a different basis: a return to world prices, like before EU accession? Something else? With a specific regime of support measures (which ones?) for every farm?

Finally, what sane person, wanting the best for the UK, can imagine Scotland and Northern Ireland seceding? Is it conceivable that the UK could be reduced to England and Wales? And what will happen to the Commonwealth? Seeing the end of ‘Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the waves’ forever be the unthinkable end of a world, a culture and a model.

 

Keep repeating: the crisis is an asset, and so is Brexit

I place a lot of the blame upon President Juncker for making the bad choice to remain silent and forbid his services from any action that could have antagonised UK voters during the Brexit campaign. In fact, the very opposite – communicating, improving and proposing – was needed.

For years, every pro-European knows that the Member States are split into two camps: those who chose the Euro, this diabolical instrument that demands economic discipline and federal-style integration, and those non-Euro countries that expect to reap the benefits of the Single Market. The United Kingdom, in its historical genes, is part of this second circle.

Dividing the 28 between these two circles should start to be prepared now and be proposed first of all to the UK, then to others as a solution. The first-circle countries could maintain the current system or even improve it by making it simpler and more operational. The European Parliament should be granted at least a partial right of initiative, and should meet in two configurations: one for only the first circle for ‘pure economics’ (Schengen, security, taxation, employment, etc.), and one for both circles regarding the organisation of the Single Market. The Commission would have a single college, but divided into two sub-colleges along the same lines.

Dear T.I.N.A. (There Is No Alternative): we are in the era of conventional wisdom. No imagination, no risk, no action. Nothing. Long live Europe à la carte. It is a symbol not of failure, but of adapting to new realities. With two circles, the EU will be stronger, not weaker.

 

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  1. All members of the EU participate in the Single Market, whilst others like Norway and Switzerland have gained access to it. All have accepted certain rules including the four basic freedoms. That is the smaller common denominator from a trade and economic standpoint.

    A number of members have elected to adopt a single currency and must of necessity integrate further their economic and fiscal policy. That is a de facto second ‘economic’ circle.

    However the European construction has several other dimensions already in existence or to be developed: social policy, Schengen, internal security, immigration, defense. A strict ‘a la carte’ approach could subdivise membership into a large number of circles with differing interests beyond the basic dimension of access to the Single Market with or without membership of the Euro. It may indeed be the practical way forward: an ‘ever closer association’ a la carte.

    It is not clear how such a process can be put in train: the Commission is subservient to the Council or to its ‘main’ members; and members of the Council are focused on their domestic issues…

    Whichever way a reform is tackled, it seems paramount to listen to the European citizens and their worries in terms of employment, security and governance. One should ideally want them to buy into the reform to prevent the spread of euro-scepticism and nationalism. A challenge worth tackling!

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