Brexit: Saviour of European federalism?

Brexit could reboot the abandoned project of European federalism

Like every European federalist, I was devastated by Brexit. Here was the third largest country by population in the European Union rejecting a watered down version of a shadow of a United States of Europe. For someone coming to the UK hoping to find a liberal and rational environment, it seemed horrifying.

But after the initial shock of the referendum result wore off, reflection came, and with it optimism. In many ways, Britain leaving the EU is the end of an awkward relationship which prevented the continent from becoming more unified, and could help shock a movement back into existence.

Britain has never felt at home in Europe. Britons tend to insist that their island is different, that their history and institutions make it impossible for them to join a pan-European state. That is of course false—regardless of what Britons may like to think, they are Europeans, and geography fates them to be forever Europeans.

Britain was excluded from the founding of what would become the European Union, the European Steel and Coal Community, and didn’t join the European project until two decades after it began. Even then, it joined reluctantly, over the howls of politicians on the left and right. Since joining, Britain has been one of the greatest causes of the watering down of pan-European institutional power. Carving itself out of the euro and Schengen, Britain also pushed for a weak European parliament.

The consequences of this pro-individualism has led to the current E.U., which everyone knows and no one loves. It is undemocratic, ineffective, and costly—but not because the Europhiles have made it that way. It is that way because it is a compromise, and like all compromises it disappoints all parties. But while some compromises manage to combine what is best from either side, the EU has managed to do the exact opposite, creating a lugubrious bureaucracy, while remaining ineffective in dealing with continent-wide issues, such as the migrant crisis, allowing itself to be held hostage by individual member states.

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This is where Brexit comes in. People chose between a tedious status quo and an inspiring message of change and freedom. No matter how disingenuous that latter message was, it won hearts and votes. But the victory of illiberal sentiment with Brexit also offers hope for us who support a United States of Europe.

Brexit means that Britain will no longer be able to stymie the efforts of greater centralisation of power into pan-European institutions.

Brexit has also shocked the European Federalist movement back into action. What was recently the sleepy preserve of eccentrics has revived a vigorous new movement. Brexit has created a generation whose support for a United States of Europe is forged in opposition to the illiberal sentiment of Brexit, and may yet save the European project.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I totally agree with the author. There -n lies an opportunity for Europe to become what is should be. The criticism that Brussels is un-democratic should be taken on board, and help mold Europe to be everything that it can be. Look not on what you are losing, but on the opportunities for the future of Europe. I remember living in England and reading the constant negativity towards to EU. It is their loss, and your gain.

  2. Thank you for the article. I agree with your view and fully support the federalist integration.

    Brexit is a cause of various reasons among which the misinformation of their population. Many, predominantly low-educated people were affected by the lies of Nigel Farage. Many of those uneducated do not look into the future nor the proctection of the future generation. They are just a generation of consumers many of which with values incompatible to the modern challenges that we face. They did not realize that the world changes, it has and always will and that we could not live in the past no matter how much we want to. Many britons did not realize what the freedom of movement represents. They were not told by the government why it is of necessity for the economy and as Nicola Sarkozy had said, ‘If the voluntarism doesn’t not help to the republic, then the state will move in with more coercive measures’. It is just a system that has needs in order to sustain itself – otherwise just like any business that does not change or innovate – it will die. In this case the economy will suffer. The britons did not realize why they have millions of people in the system. They were blaming the newcomers for having an accent despite they try to speak their language. They were blaming the ones to take their jobs that they did not want to take. They did not realize that the modern time that requires more education and career time investment as well as their habits of consumers and the changes of their personal values when seeking beloved ones affect the birthrate. They did not realize that those that move to the UK have been accepted to sustain the system. This is what the EU works for – all European countries have declining & aging populations and accept immigrants. Some don’t as they are not attractive enough.. so the future of those systems is questionable, especially as many of their human resources are going to wealthier systems. Therefore their future is also insecure unless they are protected by a federal government.

    The UK got enough human resources to sustain itself. The system has already changed sufficiently to sustain itself for some time. The muslim integration also takes a slow but effective process, especially with the introduction of the so called ‘muslim’ fashion onto their market. It will take time for these people to adapt to more secular values. The education and marketing will change their minds within a few generations so that they become westernized, even if necessary by keeping their cultural values partially and integrating them within the western society.

    The UK already has a debt of more than 2 trillions. Its population enjoys standards of living for which they will not be the ones to pay the bill. It will be the future generations for whom they are taking decision now with Brexit. It will be the future generations that will face the challenges in a world which is less Western influenced and when the US will fall behind after China.

    Just imagine this nation in 50 years alone compared to China. With less GDP and resources for investment and capability to be competitive. Bofore / Still it is the US. Soon would be China.

    The life that the west could live under China’s influence is strongly suspicious and questionable yet.

    The UK’s future is also questionable, as it is devided by 4 peoples with their own pride, values and visions.

    Europe faces many challenges – but in order to sustain itself and survive – it must change and so it will.

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