Dear Fellow European
Thank you for your message. Let me share some thoughts.
Possibly, the UK referendum marked the end of a development period of the process of European integration, and a new period opens now.
The marker is put, clearly. The actual outcome of the UK referendum (52:48, for ‘leave’) is the better one of the two outcomes, which were likely. The alternative outcome, with a marginal stronger ‘remain’ than ‘leave’ vote, would not have been an indicator for a different political situation. UK-wide results of the outcomes shown in London (75% remain), Oxford (70% remain) or Liverpool (58% remain), were not to be expected. So we got the better of two unpleasant outcomes.
The UK referendum is a yardstick in many aspects. I notice strongest: The ’social cleavages’ in the UK society (by age, education, …region) are very visible, and likely could serve as Union-wide ‘forecasts’. Thus, the marker for the ‘state of the union’ is put. Happily, muddling-on will be less easy as it would have been possible with ‘the’ alternative outcome (48:52, for remain).
The UK will have to leave the EU, and both will be weaker in the international competition. The exit-treaty cannot hinder this, but can modulate the risk-profile. The risk for a ‘lost generation of the UK’ is eminent. The exit treaty should take care to reduce that risk. Cooperation in R&D is a peace-building factor and was, so far, in the EU a means to reduce barriers. The exit-treaty should find means to engage with the UK in R&D to meet more these objectives than other. It is difficult to assess whether the UK might behave as a ‘friendly intra-muros competitor’ of the Norwegian or Suisse type. Depending on that assessment the ‘general distance of exit’ may be larger or lesser.
The ‘internal cleavages’ in the UK are the single biggest risk for a manageable exit-scenario. It would be not in our interest to head for an exit-scenario that destabilises the United Kingdom. The UK needs the margin to handle its ‘internal cleavages’; most visible is the ‘regional cleavage’ although the ‘social cleavages’ may go deeper. These ‘social cleavages’ (by age, education…) seem Union-typical and are ‘at the root’ why the UK referendum is such a strong marker for the end of development phase of building the EU. Thus, in junction with the exit-treaty additional EU policies are needed to reduce these ‘cleavages’ within the EU.
Finally and considering the Treaty and its Art.50, we should be proud that we gave the EU this instrument. It is (to my best knowledge) unique in the world. I do not know of a united-kingdom, federal-republic, confederation that foresees a democratic process for ‘leaving the entity’. The simple fact, that the EU possesses such an instrument speaks for the strength of its commitment to democracy. We should not be shy to use it, in a measured and reasonable manner.
Your very worried, Co-European