The price of solidarity: is Brexit worth it?

solidarityA misunderstanding of history and of historical time has put European solidarity on the chopping block. Think carefully before allowing the axe to swing, pleads Jan Kubik, Director of the School of Slavonic & East European Studies at UCL.

In his review of Niall Ferguson’s Kissinger, Graham Allison quotes from the book: “in researching the life and times of Henry Kissinger, I have come to realize that my approach was unsubtle. In particular, I had missed the crucial importance in American foreign policy of the history deficit: The fact that key decision-makers know almost nothing not just of other countries’ pasts but also of their own. Worse, they often do not see what is wrong with their ignorance”. Allison continues: “Ferguson’s observation reminded me of an occasion three years ago when, after an absence of four decades, Kissinger returned to Harvard. Asked by a student what someone hoping for a career like his should study, Kissinger answered: ‘history and philosophy’ – two subjects notable for their absence in most American schools of public policy”. Continue reading

The heart of the matter: passion, politics and the EU referendum

Credit: Quinn DombrowskiBoth Leave and Remain have appealed to voters’ hearts and guts  – to the extent that reason itself has become suspicious. Emotions will rule the day on 23 June. But at what cost? This piece by Uta Staiger, Executive Director of the UCL European Institute, is part of our commissioning partnership with openDemocracy on ‘Brexit Divisions’.

Politics today is suffused with emotion.

There is anger mixing with angst in the German Wutbürger, the Spanish indignados, and the French labour law protestors. There’s Donald Trump riding on a wave of demagoguery, hurling disgust at Mexicans, hatred at Muslims and disdain at women. There’s fear vying with grief and defiance in Orlando, Paris, or Brussels.

And then there’s Brexit.

Now, referendums are never one for nuance. They are yes or no, black or white, in or out: they are a “conflict-maximising mechanism” if ever there was one. But the extent to which passions have become, literally, the beating heart of the UK’s vote on EU membership is quite extraordinary to observe. It is also, I wager, a sign of things to come.

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A letter to my British friends: for Europe’s sake, please stay

 Dover Castle. Harshil Shah/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by-nc-nd)Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Professor in International Relations and Director of the Centre for International Studies at Oxford University, says the EU might be dysfunctional but it is still Britain’s home. Help us fix it from the inside. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s first guest editor week on openDemocracy.

Dear British friends,

My kids and husband are British, I teach and pay taxes in this country, talk to my village neighbours everyday and love English country lanes, Scottish castles, Welsh road-signs, Cornwall’s gardens and all the bloody rest of it. As a French and Greek citizen, I won’t have a vote in this referendum and yet this is one of the most momentous decisions that will ever be taken in my name, as a European citizen living on this side of the channel.

So, along with the two million other EU expats living here, and millions on the continent who feel passionate about Britain’s European vocation, all I can do is plead: dear British friends, please stay. Continue reading

The Great European Disaster Movie: how a nightmarish vision led to a campaign of European awakening

euro-disaster-moviePaola Buonadonna, Campaigns Director at the Wake Up Foundation, tells the story of The Great European Disaster Movie and what the Wake Up Europe! Campaign which followed is seeking to achieve. UCL is hosting a free screening of this film at the European Institute on 11 November 2015 followed by a critical debate with Annalisa Piras (director, producer and writer of the film) and Bill Emmott (executive producer and former editor of The Economist). They will be joined by Jan Kubik (Director of the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies) and Antonios Tzanakopoulous (Professor of Public International Law at Oxford).

When Italian director Annalisa Piras started shooting The Great European Disaster Movie, the hard-hitting documentary drama exploring the crises besieging Europe, all was not well in Europe.  But she is definitely not surprised by how much the situation has deteriorated since.

“We made the film because we could already see the edge of the cliff that we are now walking on approaching on the horizon,” she said.  “When the film came out some thought it was too dark. We were accused of exaggerating, of scaremongering but our nightmarish vision of a Europe sleepwalking towards disaster now appears rather prescient.” Continue reading