UK’s EU membership: Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats

Voting in the EU referendum may be one of the most important political decisions in UK voters’ lifetimes. In an effort to provide a balanced and concise way for voters to assess the pros and cons of the UK’s EU membership, Professor Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King’s College London and Director of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative, presents a SWOT analysis of 14 key areas of UK-EU relations.

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No one said it would be easy. Whilst many people wanted a chance to vote on Britain’s EU membership, actually preparing to do so has proven rather complicated. While some bemoan the absence of facts, others note that we are inundated with reports, analyses, blogs and op-eds purporting to lay out the ‘truth’ about our relationship with the EU. It is hard to know whether the problem is too much information or too little. Continue reading

Could Brexit lead to Frexit – or Czexit?

Photo: Red bus – London / EU flag (license)Seán Hanley, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Central and East European Politics at UCL, examines the claims that Brexit may lead to significant political repercussions in other EU member states, including potentially a domino effect of EU referendums.

A powerful coalition of forces – ranging from the driest of conservatives to Greens and the radical left and taking in big business,  trade unions, churches and universities – has come together to underline the negative economic, social and political consequences of Brexit.

The UK leaving the EU, it is argued, will not only do lasting damage to the country’s economic prospects and political influence, but could have wider repercussions and might even  cause the Union to start unravelling.

This is not simply a matter of absorbing a mighty economic shock, the complexities of negotiating the terms of Brexit, or the umpredictable effects of a sharply changed balance of forces within a downsized Union – the greater weight of Eurozone vis-a-via the non-Eurozone, for example – but the new political dynamics that might take hold. Continue reading

Brexit – What should universities do in the run up to the referendum?

michael-arthur-3Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost of UCL, speaks up in support for UK membership of the EU, highlighting the potentially harmful effects an exit could have on the UK’s Higher Education sector. Writing in a personal capacity, he reflects on the role that universities, and their Vice-Chancellors, should take in the referendum debate. Moreover, he argues that a ‘no’ vote would not only lead to a significant loss of research funding and risk diminishing the diversity of staff and students, but also to a loss of impact in setting the global research agenda.

With Prime Minister David Cameron’s draft EU reform deal on the table, current speculation is that the referendum vote could happen as early as June this year. A good time therefore to put fingers to keyboard and to express my personal view about what universities should (or perhaps should not) do as the debate intensifies.

As many will be aware, UCL hosted a launch event for UUK, during which this collective sector-wide body expressed a view that it would be very bad for UK Higher Education if we were to leave the European Union. It was a one-sided launch event and was never intended to be anything else, but nevertheless it attracted criticism, and was contrasted with the silent approach taken by Scottish universities during the referendum on independence for Scotland. Continue reading

#Brexit and #Grexit: Two separate debates or two sides of the same coin?

Two of the currently most popular hashtags on Twitter reflect Britain’s debate on whether to leave the EU (#Brexit) and the possibility of Greece leaving the euro (#Grexit). But although they differ only by their first letter, those two topics are by no means the same. In this post, Filipa Figueira, Teaching Fellow in Economics at UCL, explores how the two are nonetheless closely linked and how addressing one may help resolve the other.

A decision on being part of the European Union is very different from a decision on being part of a common currency. Although the word ‘euro’ makes the common currency sound like a core aspect of ‘Europeanness’, it is in fact only one of the EU’s many policies. And, as the British example shows, it is perfectly possible to be an EU member without participating in the euro currency.

Yet confusion reigns. When, in early July, a Greek exit of the euro seemed possible, many jumped to the conclusion that the country would need to leave the European Union too. This included, for example, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz – who really should know better, as that would of course not have been the case.

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YES, for our Dignity

In this post, Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Professor of International Relations at Oxford, and Othon Anastasakis, Director of the European Studies Centre, St Antony’s College Oxford, explain how a ‘yes’ vote in tomorrow’s Greek referendum is a choice for dignity rather than fear, as canvassed by the No campaign.

The SYRIZA government claims that a No vote in the referendum is about dignity. A Greece that can say no, no matter the consequences. A Greece that can at last resist creditors’ demands, just as its national heroes of yesterdays resisted the Italian and Nazi invasions.  For many Greeks, – supporters of SYRIZA-ANEL-Golden Dawn – today’s no echoes the OXI in 1940 spelled out with trees on the hillside of Epirus for the advancing enemies to behold. Seventy five years later, they think that will show the world that they can still take the heroic stance.   Against such a no, according to them, the YESes are the cowards, those who accept to be bullied and blackmailed, the German collaborators. In this simple world view, YES means fear. No means pride.

What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong with the “dignified” No? Continue reading