On 23 June, more than 17 million British citizens of the European Union voted for Brexit.
Why did they decide to do so?
The answer to this question is quite important for the future of the European Union and for the future of the United Kingdom. In my view, the reasons for this vote go far deeper than a protest against migration, the globalization or a so-called “austerity” policy of the current Tory government. I think the result should be analysed and discussed in the context of Britain’s long history towards continental Europe and its consequences. So, here is a view of the referendum’s outcome in eight reasons, a long read. Read more
Freedom, peace and prosperity for all Europeans, this lies at the heart of the European Idea.
It inspired Robert Schuman to his declaration just a few years after the end of the War. Since then, 9 May, 1950 has marked the birth of what has turned into the European Union we know today.
His declaration was about trust and cooperation across national borders. It was about concrete achievements by sharing rights of sovereignty. And it was made for the benefit of all Europeans.
Today, this idea is as attractive as ever. Read more
Common values are the very foundation of the European Union. They play a decisive role for the inner cohesion and solidarity among the citizens of the Union. They unite them. That’s why they are laid down right at the beginning of the Treaty in Article 2. They include respect for human dignity, freedom, tolerance, democracy, the rule of law, pluralism, justice, solidarity, equality, the protection of minorities and non-discrimination. The Charta of Fundamental Rights describes these values in more detail and phrases them in a manner that turns them into fundamental rights enforceable by law for each and every citizen.
In nearly one month the British people will decide to remain a member of – or to leave the European Union. Here are ten reasons – from my point of view – why it makes sense to stay in. For British citizens. But also why this will be good for all citizens of the European Union.
London held its election. Sadiq Khan has been the city’s new mayor since May 9, 2016. He is a Muslim and the son of an immigrant from Pakistan, who earned his money driving buses in the streets of London. Together with seven siblings, Sadiq Khan grew up in public housing in London, where he visited a state school and studied.
There are four reasons why Sadiq Khan’s victory is a good omen for the referendum on the British EU membership on June 23.
“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” That is the question the British will answer in their referendum on 23 June. It is a rather abstract wording for the personal belonging of each and every citizen to the European Union. A more personal question would have been: “Do you want to continue to be a citizen of the European Union or not?” That is the real and personal essence of the vote on 23 June for each and every citizen in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But what does that really mean? What does being a citizen of the European Union mean in the 21st century?
What would happen if the British voted for their withdrawal?
Should the British people vote for their withdrawal from the Union on June 23, 2016, the British Commissioner to the EU would have to resign from office the next day. The same would hold true for the 78 British MEPs. The leave of the about 1,000 employees of the Commission would have to be arranged. The same would apply to British employees at various European authorities. Even Europol’s director, the British Rob Wainwright, would have to be replaced.
Myth no. 1: National states are the right answer to the challenges presented by the 21st century
Implementing the international agreement on climate change, fighting Islamist terrorism, strengthening a stable global financial system, fostering peace in Syria and the Ukraine, handling the Syrian refugee crisis, imposing sanctions against Iran, Russia or North Korea, achieving a fairer income and wealth situation, shaping the digital transformation era and the fourth industrial revolution – none of these challenges can be mastered by one nation alone. International cooperation and close political coordination are absolutely necessary to master these challenges. The bodies of the European Union provide a very reasonable and democratic framework for reaching a common stance on the basis of the values and interests shared by all citizens of the Union. And no organization other than the Union is large enough to be really effective on a global scale. Its capability to act in terms of foreign policy may only have existed for a short time yet, but it has become considerably more powerful over the past few years. An individual national state would not be able to achieve the same results. What is more, even today, individual national states are already restricted by and bound to numerous international agreements and international law within and outside of the Union. More than ever, sovereignty has become relative in the 21st century. Absolute sovereignty, as postulated by British Brexit advocates, is an illusion. The world is developing on the basis of interdependencies.
Part I: the importance of the British referendum
There are days on which the lives of an entire generation hinge. Sometimes such days even shape an entire century.
July 28, 1914 was one such day. Back then, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. World War I started and Europe tore itself to pieces. European nations lost their role as global leaders which had been achieved during previous centuries. If Europe – if European nations and European citizens – fail to close ranks, it has dire consequences for all Europeans. This is one of the most important lessons learned from World War I. And even if our times are no longer about war and peace within Europe, this lesson could not be more topical.
May 9, 1950 was one such day, too; and it has left its mark on the lives of millions of people for more than half a century now. Back then, the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed the introduction of the “High Authority”, a joint supervisory body of Franco-German coal and steel production. The plan was the origin of our Union we know today and the High Authority developed to become the precursor of the European Commission. What a farsighted plan! And how it speaks of French generosity! Only five years after the end of World War II, only five years after Nazi Germany had razed the whole of Europe and half the world to the ground and had committed millions of murders. Back then, Robert Schuman said that it would not be possible to make Europe all at once, or according to a single plan. He explained that Europe would be built through tangible achievements which first created a de facto solidarity. He was right back then and still is. His statement could not be more topical, either.
June 23, 2016 also has the potential for becoming such a day. It is the day on which the British will decide on their membership of the European Union. That day might also turn out to be decisive for an entire generation, maybe even for a whole century. And it is not only about the future of the British, it is about the future of all citizens of the European Union.
Will Jean-Claude Juncker go down in history as the President of the European Commission under which the European Union will break up?
The European Council might have discussed and decided yesterday the strategic agenda for the next five years, for Jean-Claude Junker, the nominated President of the European Commission there is one first and foremost outstandingly important task: keeping the Union together. Assumed that David Cameron will be re-elected in 2015, there might be a British referendum by 2017 to leave the EU – or to continue to stay in it. With a publicly known No from David Cameron to support Junker’s nomination as the next President of the European Commission, the task did not become easier.