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That EU falling apart trope… not exactly working out according to plan…  July 26, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.


Anyone who has more than a passing acquaintance with the comments sections of British media will over the last twelve months or so seen a particularly irritating line from some that now Britain was leaving the EU was falling apart, or in a variant line that the EU was already falling apart and Brexit was merely hastening that day.


This overview in the Observer from a while back tends to undercut those analyses completely. It’s not just the political – though that was always overblown. Even Le Pen arriving as President of France would not in and of itself engender a Frexit. It is possible that it would see France leave the eurozone, temporarily one suspects, and even that might be too much of a stretch given the forces arrayed against her and the NF. Granted it would be a torrid time politically and not one that any of us would feel happy with – and perhaps the EU aspects would be the least of it. But again so much of what we see has been filtered through a UK-centric viewpoint, one where everything is one crisis away from catastrophe.

There’s the economic too.

I always found that idea remarkably parochial on the part of those arguing it. And it betrayed a huge lack of understanding of what the EU and what it isn’t. In a way it is of a piece with the overly emphasised reification of the EU as the embodiment of all the UK’s woes – none of which is to ignore the very real pernicious aspects of the EU. But pretending the EU was a vast monolithic structure – just a step away from the USSR (or perhaps the Warsaw Pact for those with a fraction more nuance in their analyses) was absurd. It’s a lot lot looser an arrangement. Sovereign states remain sovereign states even where there is shared sovereignty or open borders or what have you.

But another aspect of the Brexiteer line was the way they ignored the convenience aspect of the EU. Simply put the EU makes perfect sense if you live on continental Europe. Why have hard borders when relatively minor infringements on national sovereignty allow for ease of passage of people and goods? It’s not perfect – anything but. And of course there’s more, the eurozone, the ECB etc, etc. But for us on this island given we have actual partition we have a curiously clear insight into how those elsewhere in the EU feel in that respect.

And that I think is why even were a centrifugal dynamic to take hold around Europe it would be very difficult to not see the EU or a successor organisation which was functionally a continuation of the current one comprising the original 12 or 15 remaining in place. And even then, why would the Scandinavian states depart? Why would many of the central European states go? None of this makes any great sense.

Again, none of this is to argue that what is there is perfection, or to argue that even as matters currently stand a looser arrangement might not suffice. Or a confederal EU of some sort. But ultimately the sort of arrangements that currently exist in Europe would likely be maintained by something similar in many respects to the EU. Indeed for many of us on the left a left successor that would retain many of the positive aspects while jettisoning the negative would be precisely what we would want. Open borders – strong cooperation, for many of us some structures allowing political representation, form follows function.


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