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

The Left needs a Better Conversation on National Sovereignty

EU flagAs many parts of Europe continue to suffer from the Eurozone crisis and austerity, and as populist and far-right political parties continue to gain in importance, voices of the left across Europe are reclaiming the concept of national sovereignty. Renaud Thillaye, Deputy Director of Policy Network, examines these arguments, and suggests that the member states might be able to achieve freedom, and the capacity to act in their interests, only in and through the EU.

Gone are the days when talking about national sovereignty was associated with backwardness and narrow-minded conservatism. Everywhere in Europe, a section of the left is standing up to reclaim this concept and explain that regaining control over one’s own country’s destiny is a priority. The debate is particularly vivid in the UK and France.

In the UK, Owen Jones popularised the idea of ‘Lexit’ (the left version of Brexit) in July, which prompted reactions by Caroline Lucas and Philip Cunliffe on the Current Moment blog. More recently, Paul Mason dubbed the EU an “undemocratic semi-superstate”. On the account of Greece’s acceptance of a third bailout package and the sidelining of Yanis Varoufakis, Jones argued that the EU was killing national democracy and that there was no space within the EU for progressive solutions. Over the summer, Jones supported Jeremy Corbyn, whose initial ambiguity over EU membership can be seen as another element of the renewed yearning for sovereignty on the left. Since then, the new Labour leader made clear he would fight for a more social Europe from within. 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

EU Reform: What do we actually need?

Richard Corbett, a Member of the European Parliament from 1996-2009 and since 2014, explores what the term ‘EU reform’ means for the current UK government. With EU reform demands and strategies still clearly to be defined by the British Prime Minister David Cameron, UK senior officials have been working behind the scenes with their European partners to identify priorities for change. Which conclusions did they reach, and how do their suggestions link up to London’s demands?

A strange thing happened in the second half of last year. As the British Prime Minister David Cameron proclaimed to the British people that he ‘won’t take no for an answer’ when it came to EU reform, senior representatives of the UK government were working behind the scenes with other EU countries to identify which areas of EU decision-making actually needed improving — and coming to strikingly different conclusions.

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