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Thursday, 4th June 2015

The British Problem and What It Means for Europe

Source: European Council on Foreign Relations


The risk of a British exit from the EU is real, but not because the British public is much more hostile to Europe than other Europeans. The problem is an anti-EU elite that has elided the European debate with one about migration and co-opted the public discourse. Meanwhile, mainstream parties have united around a European reform platform that is compatible with EU membership. Other EU member states have much at stake. In addition to the risk of contagion, Europe without Britain will be smaller, weaker, and poorer. The UK’s European partners can play a crucial role in marginalising the anti-EU elite and helping Britain’s mainstream parties build a stronger case for EU membership.

EU states can give a hand by engaging the government in London in a reform debate, and encourage British politicians to seek benefit from joint EU initiatives rather than seeking special treatment. They should also start a wider debate about how the EU’s institutions can support the eurozone while also re-assuring non-eurozone members that a stronger euro will not weaken the rest of the Union. European leaders need to reach out to the whole political spectrum and to British society, with an eye on the referendum, for instance by encouraging their national companies based in Britain to begin issuing early warnings about job losses if Britain were to leave the EU.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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