1989 Generation Initiative

For almost two years the British media has been dominated by three topics: terrorism, refugees/immigration (often thrown into the same pot) and the EU referendum, or Brexit, as it has been coined.

PM Cameron has successfully negotiated a deal with the EU on the special status of the UK within the EU, reinforcing the argumentative powers of the IN Campaign. But while Cameron has achieved all he set out to do, somehow it doesn’t feel like a win. And that’s not the idealist in me speaking, who would like to see the UK as part of an ever closer union. This is the political analyst observing the output of the different stakeholders. If you’ve watched Junker’s new year’s press conference, you’ll likely remember him promising negotiations would end to mutual benefit and concluded by February.

A surprisingly accurate assessment, considering negotiations (and especially at such a delicate level) can be unpredictably short-lived if unsuccessful or seemingly wind on forever, as every detail is carefully considered and fought over. Moreover, the 28 member states are not known for unanimous agreements, nor for quick decision-making.

So what happened? Did the entire EU just throw in the towel? Doubtful. The Franco-German alliance and the Six have increasingly been meeting and announcing plans for further integration over the past months. It appears as though they are ready for the next step and they are tired of dealing with holdouts. So really, it looks like the EU finally decided to let the UK go. Like a melancholic and nostalgic partner who can’t decide what he or she wants out of their life and relationship, the UK has been holding the EU back and it has finally had enough. It awoke from its lovey-dovey dream and told the UK “You want more alone time? Have all the alone time you want. Continue to live in the past. But I’m moving forward with my life.”

Does the EU want a Brexit? Of course not. The UK is an important strategic partner in matters like defence, but now nothing is holding back the EU from further integrating anymore. And any other potential upstart will receive the same deal, which may be acceptable for the UK, but not for the Eastern member states.

As such the EU has set a precedent that will give it more power in future disputes. Furthermore, the EU has cleverly baited the UK into progressing the highly needed completion of the Single Market. Taking on these reforms clearly was a crucial part of the deal. Britain is more than happy to deepen the SEM and finally is back in action within the EU. At the same time, the core member states can start working on other areas of integration.

Another more subtle reform is the annual EU competence review, which will allow the EU to get rid of regulation and mechanisms it no longer needs (perhaps the CAP could finally go away?).
All of this is proclaimed by Cameron as a success for the nation states, but really it falls under the agenda of Commission President Juncker, who wants to reduce the amount of EU legislation and focus on the most important areas like political integration in the long term. So perhaps it only appears as a victory domestically, while in reality it was a carefully orchestrated chess move by Juncker and Tusk.

By Dominik Kirchdorfer

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