Will Britain leave the EU?
With two months to go before the UK referendum first Barack Obama and now the OECD have warned of the consequences of a Brexit. The organisation says the British would face major financial repercussions. Commentators examine the campaign surrounding the issue and bemoan the lack of a serious debate about Europe's future.
Brexit backers could learn from Le Pen
Leading representatives of the Brexit camp like Justice Minister Michael Gove want to prevent the leader of France's Front National Marine Le Pen from visiting Britain. But why? asks The Times:
“If British Outers want to engineer a referendum victory they must set aside Govian tutorials, recognise they have a lot in common with Ms Le Pen and go for the jugular: tap into the popular and well-founded conviction that multi-culturalism is dead, address the tensions caused by the identity crisis of young Muslims and harness some of the anger directed at blinkered EU elites. ... Brexit may come to nothing in June but its supporters can learn from the likes of Ms Le Pen as they struggle to find a new way to respond to the decay of postwar European ideals and institutions.”
EU must also make demands of London
Gérard Errera, former French ambassador to London, complains in Le Figaro that the EU has only joined the Brexit negotiations as a giver and not as an asker:
“David Cameron was so bent on renegotiating Britain's status that we had every reason to demand an explanation of his vision for Europe and the role he believes his country will play in the future. ... It speaks volumes about the state of the European Union that no one seriously thought of doing just that. Because Britain's exiting the EU would only be a major loss for Europe if the country can show that it is a true partner willing to put its ample resources in the service of a more united and credible Europe, one that can defend its interests in the world.”
Where is the real dialogue about Europe?
The upcoming Brexit referendum presents a good opportunity to launch a genuine dialogue about Europe, writes journalist Naema Tahir in her column in Trouw:
“I have a great need for reflection. For arguments. For advocates and detractors. I want to read well-researched articles about the advantages and disadvantages of Europe. … But instead I see a Europe that is increasingly divided into two camps. The pro-European camp sees itself as the well-meaning section of humanity. It feels nothing but contempt for the other camp, which it sees as irrational and driven by resentment. … For its part the anti-European camp despises the pro-Europeans and considers them elitist and undemocratic. … 'Start a dialogue with each other' - how often do we hear this phrase. It's high time we started a dialogue about Europe. Otherwise at some stage it will be impossible to stop it collapsing.”
Brexit would leave British poorer
According to a report put out by the British Treasury a Brexit would have major financial repercussions for British households. It's a good thing the government is pulling the yellow card in the Brexit debate, the daily newspaper De Volkskrant observes:
“The report convincingly disproves the Brexit camp's argument that the UK would still benefit from unlimited access to the common market consisting of 500 million EU citizens. It's logical for Brussels to put a price tag on a Brexit - if only to deter other EU states from following the British example. … A key argument for the British staying in the EU is naturally that they could then continue to influence the policies of the Union, which has geopolitical clout. But unfortunately not many British citizens care about that. Therefore it's more important to convince them that in the long run a Brexit would leave them poorer than if they remain in the EU.”
Brexit would be bad news for Eastern Europe
In the event of a Brexit the EU could collapse, which would be bad news above all for Central and Eastern Europe, the Hungarian-language Slovakian daily Új Szó observes:
“Moscow would rejoice more than anyone else over a Brexit, while Central and Eastern Europe would be worst hit because it could cause an avalanche in the region. Several Eastern European countries have already indicated that they too may consider leaving the EU. Cameron's game of chance could therefore lead to the collapse of the entire Union. … The Eastern Europeans would be worst hit as we can safely assume that the Western EU member states would move quickly to launch a new process of integration. If they create a new EU and a new Schengen Area, Eastern Europe would be left out. Not least because most of the region's political decision makers aren't exactly perceived as proponents of European unity.”
Brits should put nail in EU's coffin
With any luck the EU will once again become a loosely-knit community of states after the Brexit vote, the liberal online portal TheJournal.ie hopes:
“The EU can become more democratically accountable and be more receptive to the needs of the citizenry, who have been moving away from the idea of ever closer union for many years now even before the economic crisis. ... European citizens, beginning with the British, need to deliver a death knell to the European Union. ... We need to turn the clock back, just a bit. Not to a time of jingoistic self interest; but to a time of free trade ideals, when we were good neighbours rather than pretending to be close family members.”