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

MPs are from Mars, peers are from Venus: Westminster and the EU

big-benIn this post, Dr Julie Smith, Director of the European Centre at Polis at the University of Cambridge and member of the House of Lords, examines how attitudes towards parliamentary scrutiny of EU affairs differs between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. How do other member state parliamentarians balance the local needs of their electorates with those of EU-level governance and are there any lessons to be learned for the UK Parliament in the run-up to the EU referendum?

If you listen to debates on the EU in the two chambers of the British parliament, you could be forgiven for thinking you have landed on two different planets.

In the Commons, plenary debates on Europe are heated and often hostile, with Euroscepticism the order of the day. Few MPs display great insight into matters European but they do express themselves with passion.

Meanwhile in the Lords the vast majority of members are pro-European, with debate harking back to another age when Britain’s membership of the EU was thought to be settled and broadly beneficial. Continue reading

Five minutes with Catherine de Vries: “The left is now split over whether they simply oppose the EU’s policies or oppose what the EU stands for overall”

How has opposition to the European Union changed in light of the Greek debt crisis, the UK’s planned referendum on EU membership, and the migration crisis in the Mediterranean? In an interview with LSE EUROPP’s editor Stuart Brown, Catherine de Vries discusses the impact the UK’s referendum might have on the continent, the nature of left-wing Euroscepticism, and why immigration remains the most important issue for David Cameron in his efforts to reach a deal on EU reform.

How might the UK’s referendum campaign affect Eurosceptic movements in other parts of Europe? Could there be a domino effect with other Eurosceptic parties motivated to demand their own referendum on EU membership?

I think this is certainly possible, but it depends on the outcome of the UK’s referendum. I doubt there will be any such referendum prior to the one held in the UK. There were initiatives in the Austrian and Dutch parliaments, but they were voted down. So it really depends: if the UK voted to leave it might well reinvigorate the Eurosceptic right, in particular in countries like the Netherlands and France, but if the referendum is a vote to stay in then it’s unlikely to prompt similar moves elsewhere. 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.

Continue reading