The day after the last games of the group stage at the ‘Euro 2016’ were played out in France when we will know the teams who made it to the knock-out phase, another ‘make-or-break’-decision is due: The ‘Brexit’- referendum.
In the tragedy of ‘Hamlet’, William Shakespeare’s opening phrase “To be, or not to be…” contemplates death and suicide. 400 years later, the english poet’s descendants contemplate “should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the EU?”
“A British exit from the EU would have unforeseeable consequences.”
Jean-Claude Juncker, Head of European Commission
“In case of Brexit, millions of families will face higher prices in the shops.”
David Cameron, British Prime Minister
“Brexit is biggest risk to Britain’s financial stability.”
Mark Carney, Governor Bank of England
“If the United Kingdom left, it would be a catastrophe.”
Hubert Védrine, French diplomat
Pretty scary stuff – nonetheless, I hope that the UK voters won’t buy the arguments of ‘Project Fear’, orchestrated by pro-EU diplomats, politicians, managers (“future investment decisions could be affected” by a Brexit) and organizations as the OECD or the International Monetary Fund.
I am strongly in favor of a ‘Brexit’ which ultimately would make Europe a better place to live and prosper. Here’s why:
The referendum is basically a political issue. But since the EU is profoundly undemocratic and has increasingly become a bureaucratic monster that meddles in too many national interests, the ‘Remain’-camp in the UK is primarily painting a bleak picture of the economic consequences of a Brexit.
Well, I have my doubts, these ‘consequences’ would be that dire:
First, a ‘Brexit’ would be a slow, gradual process that minimizes turmoil. Second, a study by the think-tank ‘Open Europe’, which has a neutral position in the ‘Brexit’-debate, found that the worst-case scenario of a ‘Leave’-vote is that the UK economy loses 2,2% of GDP by 2030 (by comparison, the recession of 2008/09 knocked off about 6% of UK’s GDP).
Keep in mind that British exports to the EU represent only some 13% of GDP, and the proportion is declining. The liberation of the remaining 87% from excessive EU-related regulation would be a real kick-starter for the UK-economy after Brexit.
Aside of economic issues and of much more importance for Europe’s future are other possible ‘consequences’ of a Brexit.
It offers the UK new opportunities as a nation: the chance to manage their own affairs and to conduct their own debates over what should or shouldn’t be done by the state in their name. And it is intimately connected with something even older and even more fundamental: self-government.
Furthermore, a Brexit would spark the discussion in other EU-member states to follow Britain. If a serious debate takes place in net contributing EU countries as the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark or Germany, the EU-backers would be forced to act in order to keep the EU alive.
They would have to slash bureaucracy ‘Brussels style’ and democratize the EU-process with regular EU-wide referendums on important issues – and accept this vote.
Regarding the monetary union (in which the UK is not involved) a membership discussion in Germany or the Netherlands would add pressure to acknowledge, that the EU’s political prestige-project ‘Eurozone’ with a single-currency and the subsequent single monetary-policy by the ECB (that currently both punishes well-off savers in Germany and strangles poor Greek pensioners) is probably not the ultimate solution to solve multiple European issues.
Just this week, another ‘deal’ between the Eurozone and Greece unlocked over 10 billion EUR of fresh loans. Celebrated as ‘breakthrough’ by Eurozone leaders, the agreement in fact doesn’t address the real problems of Greece – it will just postpone the inevitable of Greece’s withdrawal from the Eurozone (‘Grexit’) to 2017/18 and keep ‘Austerity‘ in place, which will continue to choke the Greek economy.
Let’s face it: Eurozone is a disaster and EU stands for economic stagnation; in some member nations, youth unemployment tops 50%!
In addition, the EU-backers will have to answer the question why in so many pan-european rankings regarding the ‘quality of life’ – from GDP per capita & average salary to happiness & health – the top spots are usually occupied by non-EU-members like Norway, Iceland or Switzerland. As for instance in this analysis of differences in life expectancy for men in the 24 countries taking part in the ‘Euro 2016’. Or in the World Happiness Index 2016 where Denmark is the winner followed closely by non EU-members Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway.
Brexit is “the most important European vote since 1945” wrote the ‘Washington Post’ recently. A ‘Leave’ vote next month by the Britains could indeed be a starting point to make Europe a better place. A continent of broadly interconnected yet politically independent nations – where the EU may play a role as an impartial referee in a bilateral dispute – with much higher chances for all europeans to prosper.
Vote Leave: Proponents of a ‘Brexit’ claim that the EU is undemocratic and has increasingly become a bureaucratic monster. They believe, if Britain were outside the European Union, it could deregulate quite a lot and that would bring many advantages.
The ‘World Happiness Index 2016 which ranks the countries with the happiest population based on levels of GDP, generosity, social support, health, freedom, and corruption.