In or out? Europe on tenterhooks

46.5 million registered British voters will decide today whether their country remains in the EU or leaves. The polling stations close at 10 p.m. local time, and the results aren't expected until Friday morning. Brexit or Bremain? While the answer to this question clearly makes some commentators nervous, others urge everyone to stay calm.

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Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Yesterday's clowns are shaping today's politics

The Tagesspiegel sees the referendum as proof that the populists are now making their mark on real politics:

“It's no longer just a joke or a protest. Now it will have consequences. In Europe and the US, the populists are on the advance. What they all have in common is that at first they were mocked as political clowns and troublemakers, then they were demonised, but now they are in a position in which they have to be taken seriously. … This is most obvious when it comes to [Ukip boss] Farage. If it hadn't been for him it would never have come to a Brexit referendum. … 'Us down here against you up there' - this is the slogan populists everywhere are using to mobilise the people. But never since the end of the war have the consequences been as tangible and potentially fatal as with today's vote in the United Kingdom. The voters seem to be realising now how real the risk is. For a while the Brexit camp was ahead in the polls but in the meantime the Remain camp has taken the lead.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Brexit camp seducing the powerless

The leaders of the Brexit camp have ensnared the losers of globalisation with false promises, The Irish Times criticises:

“Brexit gives their pain a name and a location - immigrants, Brussels bureaucrats. It counters their sense of powerlessness with a moment of real power. Brexit would, after all, be a very big thing to do. But it’s still self-harm. For the cynical leaders of the Brexit campaign, the freedom they desire is the freedom to dismantle the environmental, social and labour protections that they call 'red tape'. They want to sever the last restraints on the very market forces that have caused the pain. They offer a jagged razor of incoherent English nationalism to distressed and excluded communities and say: 'Go on, cut yourself, it feels good.'”

Daily Mail (GB) /

Don't believe the lies of EU fans

The Daily Mail, by contrast, dismisses the Remain campaigners' warnings about the negative economic repercussions of a Brexit as scaremongering tactics:

“The truth is that no one - apart, it seems, from a plutocratic elite - knows what will happen if we choose Brexit. We do know, however, that as the world’s fifth largest economy we should be able to forge deals with countries keen to sell to our affluent consumers. We do know that the Germans will still hunger to sell us their cars, the Spaniards to welcome our currency-rich holidaymakers, and the world will want the unique skills of the City of London. And if the pound falls, that will be good for exports, as it was when the Exchange Rate Mechanism collapsed.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Stick to the status quo

The Czech Brexit supporters would like nothing better than to see the entire EU collapse, Lidové noviny warns, taking the opposite view:

“The collapse of the EU would above all strengthen the determination of the powerful nations to get their own way. Our country and others situated between big Germany and big Russia would lose the chance to form ad-hoc coalitions with the British, the French, the Germans or the Scandinavians, depending on the situation. We would fall under the hegemony of the big states. Sure, better democratic Germany than autocratic Russia. But even better is the current situation where we have a choice. The status quo is the least bad of all the bad options open to us.”

ABC (ES) /

Spoilt democracies on the verge of self-destruction

Europe's societies are on the point of self-destruction, warns the daily paper ABC:

“The abyss on the edge of which British society is teetering symbolises the self-destructive tendencies of the West's spoilt democracies. They seem to have forgotten how much it cost to build up a welfare state and stable institutions. The rise of Podemos in Spain, Le Pen in France and the racist movements in Central and Northern Europe is a symptom of certain dangerous tendencies within European societies: they are guiding fears and anxieties about the future that are barely being addressed by the political institutions or leaders into irrational channels. The cliché that the system doesn't work serves opportunists as a pretext for repeating the same old slogans over and over.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Keep calm and carry on

De Standaard doesn't believe everything will be lost:

“The British are not bringing the sky down upon their heads. Nor will European culture disappear into a black hole the day after a Brexit. ... The distance across the English Channel won't shrink or grow depending on the outcome of the vote. We'll go on talking one way or another, regardless of how annoyed people are with the obstreperous island-dwellers. You can't choose the Europe you live in, it is what it is. With its history, its differences and its lack of understanding. But that's no reason to give up on it either. Whichever side wins tonight, disbanding the Union is not the answer. In the search for 'unity in diversity', the accent has been placed on the former until now. But to be united we must also learn to accept diversity.”

Ziarul Financiar (RO) /

Britain can't survive without EU migrants

The Brexit campaign has often targeted migrants, the business paper Ziarul Financiar writes incensed:

“Brexit supporters have said that migrants were contaminating Britain and its royal family, that they are thieves and only create trouble and that the best of them take away the well-paid jobs because they are willing to work for less. … Half of the British want to kick out the migrants. But who will clean their toilets and care for the parents they have sent to nursing homes because they're too much trouble at home; who will bring them the bedpan in the hospital, repair the light or stir the pea soup when the foreigners have gone? … Without foreigners Britain couldn't survive because the British have forgotten how to do the menial jobs. There would be no one there to work for them and pay their pensions.”

Fakt (PL) /

Don't behave like a petulant child!

Robert Feluś, chief editor of the Polish tabloid Fakt, appeals to the honour of the British in a bid to convince them to stay in the EU:

“Your pride as island dwellers is also based on being part of the community of European nations. You attach great importance to being a counterweight to Germany, which currently dominates the continent. Do you really want to give that up? If you vote against the EU in the referendum you will be behaving like a naughty and sulky child who says: 'I don't like your sandpit. I'm going to take my toys and leave.'”

Le Temps (CH) /

Britain as the bossy older sister

A Brexit would face Switzerland with a true dilemma, Le Temps believes:

“Seduced by the success of the Icelanders, Norwegians and Swiss, a growing number of Europeans dream of a life outside the EU. It's by no means certain that the British will take the plunge on Thursday. But if they do it will fundamentally change the architecture of the continent and the place Switzerland occupies in it. Since 1992 the Confederation has grown used to living in a limbo on the fringes of the EU, with its two Nordic buddies and a bit of confetti. ... But if Britain leaves tomorrow, Switzerland will find itself in the company of a bossy older sister with whom certain things will have to be made clear from the start. ... The Confederation would find itself locked in a power struggle that would soon become too much for it. Which explains why the Federal Council is almost as adamant about Britain staying in the EU as the Union itself.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Cameron could become the EU's saviour

A victory for Remain would be a major setback for Eurosceptics in other countries and put an end to their exit fantasies once and for all, Helsingin Sanomat hopes:

“Cameron's game is strange in a way, because although he will definitely tarnish his own image he may be able to save the EU. If the supporters of EU membership win it will be a blow for the anti-EU forces in other member states who also want an exit. If the exit initiative fails in Britain, it won't be successful in any other country either.”

Público (PT) /

Brexit would be a salutary shock

Only a Brexit victory can propel Europe out of its fundamental crisis, journalist José Vítor Malheiros writes in Público:

“I fervently hope that Brexit wins on Thursday. Not because I believe Britain would be better off out of the EU, or that the EU would be better off without Britain. But because I hope that the British exit comes as a shock that will finally bring about a political upheaval and trigger a moment of self-reflection - and give the EU the democratic impetus it so badly needs. Without a Brexit the EU won't be able to reform and reinvent itself in a new (and respectable) format. ... The point is that the EU is no longer the 'Europe of values' we dreamt of. The EU has taken Europe hostage and turned it into a bordello. The dream has become a nightmare.”

Cumhuriyet (TR) /

The Continent can reinvent itself

Thanks to the Brexit referendum Europe will finally start discussing which direction it really wants to take, Cumhuriyet believes:

“The self-image of the British has been shaped by the European invasion in 1066, the war against Nazi Germany, the British Empire and the traders' legacy. And the notion that the country is the cradle of democracy and can make autonomous decisions. … But the real problem lies in Europe. The problems caused by the financial crisis in 2008 have brought the EU to a crossroads. … In the Netherlands, France, Denmark and Austria the Eurosceptics are gaining ground. … Whether it comes to a Brexit or not the initiative will reverberate in other countries. A debate about a new Europe with the main themes being national identity, migrants and alternative globalisation is imminent.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Only a better Europe can prevent exits

If the EU wants to prevent exit ambitions from developing in other states it needs to offer its citizens new incentives, and fast, warns La Stampa:

“Whatever the outcome of the referendum, for Europe the deadline has expired. Before the next country starts pushing to leave the Union or the Eurosceptic movements grow even stronger the politicians need to start sending a concrete signal to the people: Europe can offer better economic conditions and help create jobs. So it would be nice if the day after tomorrow we see the heads of state and government in Brussels start making decisions regarding issues ranging from simplifying the bureaucracy to euro bonds for refugees and boosting the EU's budget.”

NaTemat (PL) /

Poland could also leave

Poland could also become an exit candidate, fears Adam Szłapka, secretary general of the liberal Nowoczesna party, on his blog with naTemat website:

“I strongly urge the Poles in London to vote for Britain to remain in the EU because a Brexit would call into question any further integration. And that integration has brought Europe 70 years of peace and the Poles rapid modernisation and growth. … A Brexit would only strengthen the nationalist rhetoric of the PiS. Right now Poland is seen by many of its foreign partners as an anti-European country that doesn't accept the values on which the community is based. And people are already wondering whether a Brexit would be followed by a Polexit. These fears are not unfounded, which is why we are keeping our fingers crossed for those who oppose Britain's exit.”

The Times (GB) /

The choice between freedom or serfdom

Europe's nations could protect themselves better against domestic and foreign enemies as independent states, columnist Melanie Phillips writes in a pro-Brexit piece in The Times:

“It's true that the European project's foundational aim was to contain German militarism. Times, though, have changed and Germany is now a democracy. Moreover, the EU is itself fuelling the rise of neo-fascist parties capitalising on the way it rides roughshod over national interests. If European free societies are to defend themselves against their enemies, whether from the Islamic world, Russia or the Far East, this will only be done by sovereign nations fighting for their own future in alliance with other such nations. ... Freedom or serfdom? That's the choice on Thursday that faces us all.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Why the British may soon regret Brexit

British opponents of the EU complain about the freedom of movement allowing unlimited immigration from other EU states. But if they vote to leave they may soon sorely miss that freedom, The Irish Times observes:

“Net migration into Britain in recent years is in fact a reflection of British economic success, especially in terms of ensuring full employment. ... Net immigration can easily turn to net emigration if an economy falters. If Britain votes for Brexit the economy there could enter into the recession that almost all informed economic commentary suggests is likely. This would 'solve' the immigration 'problem'. It would indeed be ironic in that situation that, because of Brexit, British workers could not migrate freely to the EU, including Ireland, in search of work.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Nexit debate would hurt the Netherlands

After a Brexit the Netherlands would also be caught up in a debate on leaving the EU, columnist Peter de Waard warns in De Volkskrant:

“The economic consequences of a Brexit could be considerable - not because exports would sink, but because the Netherlands would then get bogged down in an endless Nexit debate. The Dutch 'home guards' would take over TV chat shows with their pleas for a Dutch referendum. ... Although this idea has no majority in the Dutch parliament, it will exert terrific pressure on the parties in view of the upcoming elections [in March 2017]. Populism speaks with a powerful voice. ... But a far larger economic risk than a Brexit is represented by the indirect consequences of political unrest in The Hague. If the Brits vote to leave, the exit virus will spread to the Netherlands. Wilders et al. will celebrate it as a victory in the fight against the Brussels bureaucracy.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Bremain would not save EU

The EU will be on unsure footing even if the British vote for Remain on June 23, Le Figaro believes:

“It's not surprising that anti-Euro groups are on the rise in Europe. The Union is stagnating, it is not creating jobs and it is pitting one community against another by enforcing austerity policies that some see as too drastic and others as inadequate. ... The problems raised by Europhobes may be real, but that doesn't make their proposals (exiting Europe, returning to national currencies, expelling immigrants) viable. Nevertheless, the European establishment's inactivity and it's habit of sticking its head in the sand give them credibility. Yes, a Brexit would be catastrophic for the European project. But even if the Remain camp wins the Union will still be under threat from the conflicts on its external borders, economic stagnation and the alienation of many of its citizens.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Renaissance of the EU's nation states

No matter what the outcome of the Brexit referendum the EU must stop looking down on the nation states, Jyllands-Posten comments:

“The EU must re-establish the balance between Brussels and the member states. And that involves more than holding a competition for the most fervent essay on the EU. EU cooperation is the fundamentally correct approach and too valuable for those at the top to just go on muddling through, no matter what the outcome of Thursday's vote. Brussels and the member states must learn a lesson from the many mistakes committed in the past and encourage critics of the EU to lend positive support to a Europe that has never been as free or as peaceful as it is now. A good way to start would be to concede that the nation state is undergoing a renaissance. But that doesn't stop the EU from providing an excellent framework for vital European cooperation.”

Welt am Sonntag (DE) /

Learn from the wisdom of the British

Europe should learn from the history of the British Empire, the Sunday paper Welt am Sonntag urges:

“The British learned more from [the British Empire's] collapse than they did from its construction. And it is this wisdom we urgently need for the future. This nation allows itself to be ruled among others by female lords of Pakistani origin, thus displaying a capacity to integrate foreigners with its own peculiarities that is unmatched elsewhere in Europe. … Britain has managed this because it is a little cleverer and more cautious than others. The slogan after 1945 was 'manageable decline'. This term was meant to describe how to let go without losing. How to win even though you no longer dictate the rules. You have to learn how to somehow keep on making sure things are fair if you don't want to be beaten. This is the formula all Europe needs to learn.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Europe needs Britain

Without the UK Europe won't be worth much any more, Kristeligt Dagbladet explains:

“One of the most resilient pro-EU arguments is that the EU has been a peace project over the decades since World War II. And can we really imagine a Europe without some type of cooperation among its members? No, of course not. … The truth we must confront when we look to June 23 is that continental Europe needs the British just as much as the British need us. The British people's deep-rooted scepticism regarding centralism, dreams of social union and the European project is an indispensable element for the structure as a whole. Because when we look closer we realise that that structure is effectively what the heads of government of the individual states have agreed on. And in this context we need the British.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Nothing but fearmongering

For the past two weeks David Cameron has been warning in his campaign of the negative economic repercussions of a Brexit. That is not politically astute, Le Soir criticises:

“Cameron and his supporters have now developed their own fear-based argument centred around economic collapse. Upping the stakes, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced that a Brexit would be followed by an immediate recession that would necessitate budget cuts and tax hikes. Faced with this threat bordering on blackmail, the British are right to doubt: how could David Cameron have promised a referendum if he thought for one moment that one of the two outcomes would lead to financial collapse? The poor British: so reputed for their common sense, the only arguments they are being given for leaving or staying in the EU are fuelled by fear.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

No going back after Brexit

Next Thursday's vote is a point of no return for the British, economist Tomáš Sedláček warns in his column in Hospodářské noviny:

“If Britain leaves the EU that decision will be for good. Naturally it can do this. It's a free world. But it won't be able to join again. We're not fools. The door to the EU will remain shut. Yes, Europe is a challenge. If we destroy all that we have built up since the war we will never be able to rebuild it. But if we tackle the current problems together nothing will be able to bring us apart.”

New Statesman (GB) /

Outcome could be decided on the pitch

How well the English team performs in the European Football Championship could have a major influence on the Brexit debate in the last days before the referendum, the New Statesman believes:

“As an example of our role in Europe in action that animates rather than bores or alienates citizens, could Euro 2016 yet inject a dose of much needed passion into the remaining ten days of the campaign. ... Damage to national pride at a time when big questions are being asked could do many strange and unpredictable things to our sense of place in the world, including our place in Europe. As the legendary Liverpool manager and socialist Bill Shankly once said 'Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that.'”

Göteborgs-Posten (SE) /

The only winner is populism

The debate about Britain leaving the EU has been driven purely by emotion on the part of the Brexit camp and has degenerated into a populist battle, Göteborgs-Posten critcises:

“Despite the debt crisis the EU single market has still managed to bring about the biggest increase in prosperity Europe has ever experienced. Yet the EU proponents' argument that export opportunities and growth potential would be wasted with a Brexit simply aren't getting through. Just like the emotion-fuelled Brexit campaign, Bremain should have turned the referendum into a question of values. … No matter what the outcome of the referendum, its legacy will be a deeply polarised UK society. The fact that the Brexit debate has opened all the doors for populism should serve as a warning to other EU member states.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

EU opponents exploiting concessions

The concessionsBrussels made to London in the hope of convincing the British to stay in the EU could end up backfiring on the Union, La Vanguardia fears:

“The efforts of Brussels, which agreed to give Prime Minister David Cameron more sovereignty and restrict the free circulation of workers, not only appear not to have had the desired effect but are actually being exploited by those who want Brexit, in particular after the European Court of Justice's decision on Tuesday to recognise London's right to make legal residency a precondition for EU workers' receiving certain social benefits. 'The judges are saying we are right', they claim.”

The Times (GB) /

The EU has never held the British back

Contrary to what Brexit supporters claim the EU has not prevented Britain from being highly successful or moving in a different direction to other EU member states, columnist Daniel Finkelstein argues in The Times:

“Since 1973 we have grown faster than Germany, France, Italy and even the US. And in the single market era we have grown by 62 per cent while Germany has grown by 35 per cent. ... It is easy to respond by suggesting that this growth has occurred despite the EU rather than because of it. We have done well entirely because we have adopted a different economic model to our partners. Yet consider the admission that this response involves. It admits that the EU does not dictate our laws and economic model. We have been able to diverge, rather than converge, with our neighbours.”

Revista 22 (RO) /

If Romanians stopped sending money home

A Brexit could do considerable harm to the Romanian economy, the weekly paper Revista 22 fears:

“The UK's leaving the EU could put pressure on Romanians working in the UK who - according to estimates by the BCR Bank - send home more than half a billion euros each year. ... At present roughly 170,000 Romanians live in Britain, and around 85 percent of them have a job. In the event of a Brexit they'll either return home or look for work in another European country. But if the Romanians working abroad stop sending money - which accounts for roughly 0.3 percent of the GDP - back home, it could have negative repercussions on the current account deficit and put additional pressure on the local currency.”

The Independent (GB) /

Right-wing Tories could be left to rule supreme

If the British vote to leave the EU, the conservative, Eurosceptic wing of the Tory Party would take control of the government, columnist Jon Danzig writes in The Independent:

“Imagine our current Tory government morphing into a new government consisting only of right-wing Eurosceptic Tories, with the softer pro-EU Conservatives disbanded because they lost the referendum. A new Conservative government that wouldn’t be subject to the progressive rules and safeguards of the European Union - such as on workers’ rights, free movement and protection of the environment. If you’re one of those who say 'We want our country back', have a think about what country you’d be getting back if we left the EU, and who’d really be in charge of it. Would they represent you?”

Polityka (PL) /

Border will be re-established along the Oder River

Britain's exit from the EU would cause a new East-West divide in Europe, columnist Jan Hartman writes in his blog with news magazine Polityka:

“A Brexit would force Germany, France and the Benelux states to form a smaller EU. And we wouldn't be part of it because Poland, Hungary and for the most part Czechia and Slovakia don't fit in emotionally with those states - either now or in the future. The West will always remain the West and we will always merely represent the East. The dream of Western civilisation and political culture will be destroyed in Poland. Under the pretext of fending off attacks or solving the migration problems borders will be sealed once more - including without doubt the border along the Oder River.”

Expresso (PT) /

Incentive for autonomy movements

Journalist Ricardo Costa outlines the potential consequences of a Brexit in the weekly paper Expresso:

“Brexit would not only mean England's departure. In the long term it could also induce Scotland to leave the UK, and in the short term it could mean the re-establishment of traditional borders between Northern Ireland and Ireland. These three scenarios should give all Europeans goose pimples. But when we look at the tremors this earthquake could cause on this side of the Channel, the effect is even more spine-chilling. If an independent Scotland were accepted within the EU, it would provide a major incentive for Catalonia and other regions that want to achieve full autonomy while remaining in the EU.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Offer the citizens EU benefits

In view of the Brexit debate politicians urgently need to make it clear that the EU has a lot to offer its citizens, Jurek Kuczkiewicz, European Affairs editor for Le Soir, writes in the Italian daily La Repubblica, giving a concrete proposal for how this can be done:

“Right now the Europeans simply need a project which provides them with direct and tangible benefits and that alleviates the sense of insecurity that has taken hold all over the continent. An ideal approach would be social affairs. … We dare not dream of European unemployed benefits. But why not introduce additional European allowances (for unemployment, children, education, illness or pensions) that would have a social and economic function and at the same time consolidate Europe's battered social pact? … If the British do decide to leave the EU, Europe's leaders would be well advised to offer a new concrete incentive.”

Le Point (FR) /

France must show the way forward

France in particular must seize the initiative in the crisis of the European project, former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing writes in Le Point:

“In a strange and paradoxical way the British referendum has given France back its long forgotten role as a founding member of Europe. Whether the result is positive or negative, it has definitively separated the project of the single market from that of European integration. From now on two distinct approaches are necessary. France has advocated a gradual advance towards European integration ever since the declaration of Robert Schuman 66 years ago, an advance that has taken us as far as the common currency. We must now show the way forward to all those who understand the importance of a strong Europe in a new world.”

The Independent (GB) /

British democracy has been revitalised

The upcoming referendum has sparked vital debates in Britain, columnist Mary Dejevsky writes in The Independent:

“Because the EU referendum is truly national - not counted or campaigned for by constituency - and because views on Europe cross party lines, there is the possibility of a nationwide conversation, and a sense of national politics at work. When senior government ministers joust in public about the prospects for the City of London or manufacturing jobs, about desired levels and types of migration, or about the practical import of sovereignty in the 21st century - we are watching the dissection of big questions that deserved open discussion long ago. ... This is more democracy than I can remember in Britain for decades.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

EU must address its deficits

The EU should take advantage of the Brexit referendum to reassess itself, Neue Zürcher Zeitung urges:

“It may be a pipe dream. But the EU, too, should not let this rare exercise in direct democracy slip by without taking a good look at its own glaring deficits. Otherwise a copycat effect could set in with countries like the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland also getting caught up in energy-sapping exit debates. Both sides would be aided by a constructive search for a more effective Europe. If London and Brussels were a couple you'd want to recommend relationship therapy.”

The Wall Street Journal (US) /

Cameron selling EU below its value

David Cameron's pro-EU camp should do far more to stress the historic achievements of the European Union, The Wall Street Journal urges:

“A self-confident pro-EU campaign could tell a strong story about the EU’s vital role as a mechanism by which 28 sovereign countries can try to find common solutions to common problems facing a historically unstable continent. Mr. Cameron’s reluctance to point to the EU's role in responding to cross-border challenges ranging from terrorist threats to illegal migration to climate change is puzzling. So, too, is his reluctance to talk about his own journey from Brussels-basher to champion of U.K. membership and what he learned about the realities of international diplomacy on the way.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Arguments of EU critics border on racism

British EU opponents are unfairly making scapegoats of immigrants from other EU states, The Irish Times criticises:

“Nowhere has the manipulation of truth been more cynical and verging on racism than on immigration. Brexiters play on fears that the NHS, which survives on migrant labour, and local authority housing are being 'overwhelmed' by migrants who, studies show, actually pay more in taxes than they get in handouts from the state. … And it is cynically suggested to Commonwealth immigrants that the only thing standing between them and family reunifications are EU migrants whose exclusion would open all sorts of doors ... as if a Johnson/Gove-led government would suddenly discover a new enthusiasm for black migration.”

De Standaard (BE) /

We can spare ourselves all the hysteria

Things are never as bad as they seem and that also goes for the Brexit hype, political scientist Hendrik Vos writes in his column in De Standaard:

“All possible variations are conceivable, but basically a deal will be worked out with the British that will look very much like the agreements with Norway or Switzerland. On paper these countries are not members, but in practical terms they are. ... It's decisive for their survival. If it comes to a Brexit heads will roll in Britain, first and foremost that of the prime minister. There are limits to political acrobatics. But at the end of the day we'll wonder whether Brexit was worth all the hype. Complex rules full of clauses and protocols will have to be worked out with the Union. Much costly political energy will be wasted. Nevertheless there are good chances that Britain will remain in the EU even if it leaves.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Why the Swiss support Brexit

Nowhere on the continent is the idea of a Brexit greeted with as much sympathy as in Switzerland, Tages-Anzeiger observes:

“It's naive, short-sighted and a little crazy - but it can be explained. First, the Swiss sympathise with the British aversion for the EU. Like the British we see ourselves as a special case - as a country at the heart of Europe that, however, doesn't belong to Europe. A country that always defined itself by dissociation and that sees the united Europe less as a peace project and more as a shopping mall where you can do good business - even if you're not a member. Secondly, Swiss politicians hold firm to the idea that if the UK leaves the EU this will solve our problems with Brussels, particularly as regards the free movement of persons.”

Népszabadság (HU) /

Grist to Orbán's mill

It would be dangerous for Britain to remain in the EU, sociologist László Bruszt and economist Nauro F. Campos write in Népszabadság:

“In case Britain did remain in the Union it has negotiated that it be excluded from any further enhancement of integration. Illiberal Eastern European nationalists like Hungary's Prime Minister Orbán who love to defend their countries' national sovereignty against Brussels would benefit from that. If Britain remained in the EU it would be grist to the mill of Orbán and his allies in Eastern Europe who oppose a deepening of the Union. ... With an eye to EU integration, a Brexit would be very positive indeed.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

A new approach to European integration

The EU must regroup into two different communities, political scientist Sergio Fabbrini urges in Il Sole 24 Ore:

“No matter what the outcome of the referendum, the relations between the UK and the Western countries of continental Europe, most of which are members of the monetary union, must be clarified. … A process is needed to create both a political union that encompasses only the Eurozone and an economic union encompassing the single market and all 28 member states. Such a corrective measure will be easier if Bremain prevails. But even in the event of Brexit, two or more years of negotiations will be left that should be used to develop two different models. … The time has come to give up the idea of integrating all the EU countries into a single organisation.”

Äripäev (EE) /

Impact similar to that of the Lehman crisis

The repercussions of a Brexit could be as far-reaching as the Lehman Brothers crisis in 2008, the former head of the Estonian branch of Danske Bank, Aivar Rehe, comments in Äripäev:

“There are similarities between the British people's potential decision in favour of Brexit and the Lehman crisis, so we should be prepared for the consequences. I recommend that companies dust off their notes on Lehman and start thinking about potential risk scenarios. Decisions of such import will cause disturbances and uncertainty on the financial markets - also known as volatility in business jargon. The Lehman crisis caused a major decrease in the willingness to take risks in the real estate sector. In addition to that a Brexit would lead to a similar increase in conservative risk management on the part of the banks. I also recommend that families keep a financial buffer.”

Libération (FR) /

Do us a favour and vote for Brexit!

The Brits should vote to leave the EU, writes Jean Quatremer, Brussels correspondent of Libération:

“Sure, my English friends, you staying in the EU will avoid an immediate crisis. But longer term it’ll drag the European project down towards its final disintegration. Europe, which aspired to wield heft in a world where the Occident will be of diminishing importance, will become nothing more than a Failed Project that raises a wry smile among leaders in China, India, or even America. Only your much heralded departure will allow Europe to bounce back. I’m not a fan of the idea of a ‘beneficial crisis’, but Europe is already in a catatonic state, and only a shock on a grand scale can shake it out of it, and force the more visionary of our leaders (if indeed there are any left) to act to avoid a terminal dissolution.”

The Independent (GB) /

The British would suffer under Norwegian model

To maintain access to the European single market after a Brexit the UK would have to follow its rules without having any influence on them, The Independence warns:

“A European Union without the UK would, without a doubt, be a European Union far less attractive to the British. ...With a 'Norwegian solution', the UK would be obliged to keep implementing EU regulations to keep that market access: regulations then dominated by French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish politics; regulations with which the UK would certainly be less comfortable. The Dutch, the Nordics and other flexibility-seeking countries would perhaps at times feel increasingly isolated. But more than any, the British would suffer.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Brussels too passive

The EU as we have known it for decades could disappear almost without resistance, Der Standard fears:

“Behind the scenes everyone is quaking at the thought of the 'unthinkable'. Indirect proof of that is seen in the commissioners' behaviour as regards Brexit. They're avoiding official trips to the UK. Even Juncker isn't lifting a finger to woo the Brits. Apparently people in Brussels think that staying away will do more for the Bremain camp than showing a strong presence. A sad state of affairs. The Juncker team came into office in 2014 with the aim of being a 'strong political Commission' that wanted to bring the EU forwards internationally as well. ... The EU states have many good reasons for doing their utmost to keep London in the pack. But the way things look now they couldn't care less one way or the other.”

La Tribune (FR) /

Brexit could further divide EU

A Brexit could deepen the inequality within the EU, La Tribune warns:

“How the EU would deal with Britain after a Brexit is still not clear. Regardless of what they have said during the Brexit campaign, exporting countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland would do their best to cut their losses by preventing trading conditions from worsening. ... For political reasons France could put its foot on this brake with the possible support of Italy, where Matteo Renzi is being threatened by Movimento 5 Stelle, Ukip's ally in the European Parliament. One thing is sure: a 27-member EU could get caught up in contradictions. And the French-German tandem could become the collateral victim of a Brexit.”

Blog EUROPP (GB) /

EU no less democratic than the individual states

Brexit supporters often complain that EU institutions lack democratic legitimation. Journalist Imke Henkel contradicts this view in the London School of Economics' Europp blog:

“The EU is distant, difficult to understand, often non-transparent. However, the EU is not un-democratic. Like the British government, the European institutions are legitimised through a representative democracy. The British prime minister is elected by his party, not the people. … If we were to argue that the EU is democratic, then we would point out that EU commissioners are appointed by national governments who have been elected by the people. … The EU parliament is elected by the European citizens in each country. The EU Council consists of elected ministers and head of states of each country (and the Commission is, as stated above, appointed by national governments and subject to a vote by the European Parliament).”

The Independent (GB) /

Scotland as the last EU stronghold in the UK

If Brexit wins Scotland would divorce from England and remain in the EU for economic reasons alone, The Independent believes:

“Given a choice between leaping into the unknown handcuffed to England and remaining as part of a stable (if risky) European Union, Scots will take their chances with Europe. More than just avoiding a leap into the unknown, remaining as part of the EU while England leaves represents a once-in-a-lifetime economic opportunity for Scotland. Every business that might consider leaving England for mainland Europe following a Brexit might instead consider moving to Scotland. Scotland will probably adopt the Euro as currency, is more conveniently situated for mainland Europe than Ireland and has a highly advanced renewable energy sector.”

Diário de Notícias (PT) /

Don't just argue with threats

The Bremain camp shouldn't rely only on fear in its arguments, writes columnist Ferreira Fernandes in Diário de Notícias:

“With just three weeks to go before the referendum those who oppose Brexit are using arguments based almost entirely on fear: they talk of the economic disaster that would ensue, the disinterest of Arab and Chinese investors and an isolated City of London, retaliatory measures from Brussels. Now they may be right, but the opponents of a Brexit should also be able to present other convincing arguments like political and cultural interests or Europe's common destiny - but apparently they don't really believe in these things themselves”

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The Irish Independent (IE) /

Brexit sounds better than Bremain

Those in favour of leaving the Union have the better buzzword for their campaign, The Irish Independent reflects:

“Brexit has so much more punch than Bremain, which sounds like an unusual surname or a brand of medicine. So it's not surprising that Bremain hasn't really got off the ground. And what alternatives were there? 'Bray' for stay is about it. … So Brexit it is, and so successful is it that the 'remain' side are actually talking about whether people should vote yes or no to Brexit. This is a victory for leave because already, by talking about Brexit, we are - subconsciously - prepared for a British exit.”

Le Monde (FR) /

And what if the Brits remain?

In view of the British chancellor of the exchequer's warnings against a Brexit, Le Monde advises working out a strategy for the scenario of Britain remaining in the Union:

“A victorious David Cameron will want to foist his political agenda on Europe, with a revival of the single market, a de-technocratisation of the EU and a more active role for national parliaments. Such aspirations are praiseworthy, but we must be careful not to underestimate the resulting political dynamic: a 'Bremain' risks reinforcing economic convergence between Germany and the UK, Europe's two biggest economies. ... If it doesn't want to be marginalised, France must prepare a real plan B for the Eurozone and for the 28-member EU. If the Brits remain, the French must strike while the iron is hot.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Poland would be more important after Brexit

Rzeczpospolita, by contrast, sees the prospect of the UK leaving the EU as a chance for Poland:

“The economic and security policy ties between Britain and the EU are so close that even a Brexit won't change anything here. So there is life after Brexit. … A Brexit would by no means spell the end for the Union but simply pave the way for its thorough overhaul. Poland is the biggest country outside the Eurozone, meaning that it would like assume a more important role within the EU. So let us not regard a Brexit as a disaster but as a chance to bring our own ideas into this restructuring of the EU.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

A horror scenario for Ireland

Britain's exiting the EU would leave the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland facing huge political, social and economic problems, The Irish Times warns:

“The prospect of Brexit should fill Ireland with dread. It could have severe economic repercussions, lead to the re-establishment of border controls as mandated by the EU with a non-member-state outside of Schengen, and reignite tensions in the North. All this is possible, not because of any shift within Ireland or any new problems between Dublin and London, but as a result of Britain’s difficulties with the EU. The Anglo-Irish relationship, in short, will be determined not by a purely bilateral dynamic but by a broader European one.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

All arguments speak against exiting

The pro-Brexit camp is concealing the negative repercussions of the country leaving the EU, Dagens Nyheter admonishes:

“The naysayers claim that the British will soon be able to reach a new deal with the EU on access to the single market. But there are no indications that the EU will handle a deserter with kid gloves. Any EU agreement would demand that the free movement of workers is upheld, as in Norway and Switzerland. The more autonomy the UK demands, the less likely it is to gain access to the EU marketplace. … The economic and political arguments favour EU membership. The 'no' camp is creating a utopia about independence that no one should fall for.”

Satakunnan Kansa (FI) /

A major threat for small EU member states

The political risks of a Brexit are underestimated, Satakunnan Kansa warns:

“It's clear that in the event of a Brexit both the UK's and the EU's influence in global politics would decline. In particular small countries like Finland would suffer from such a development. In today's tense political situation, it will be easier to provoke and apply pressure if the united EU front crumbles. ... After a Brexit more and more people in the member states would push for their country to leave the Union. That goes for Finland as well. For Finland the EU has always been both an economic and a political project demonstrating that the Finns belong in the West. The exit campaigners use economic arguments but they forget the political dimension. For Finland the EU means having vital defence ties with the West. If they did not exist we would be directly under Russian influence.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Brexit supporters have nothing to do with IS

The terrorist Islamic State would be delighted to see Britain leave the EU, Prime Minister David Camerons said on Tuesday, warning about the dangers of a Brexit. This may have nasty repercussions for the head of government, the Daily Telegraph comments:

“That is not just offensive but politically ill-advised. Roughly half the electorate, and most of the Conservative Party membership, back Brexit. They do so honourably and because they believe that is best for their country. Yet Mr Cameron has suggested they are giving succour to a death-cult guilty of mass murder, rape and enslavement. If the Prime Minister personally faces bitter recriminations from voters and Tory colleagues after the referendum vote, he will have only himself to blame.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

An irresponsible political game

Jyllands Posten sees Cameron's decision to let the British vote on staying in the EU as a huge mistake:

“The country is divided and there is no sign of a clear majority. Britain's future in Europe is in the hands of Prime Minister David Cameron. His decision to hold a referendum was neither the fault of the voters nor of political demands for a definitive decision on EU membership. It is solely the result of Cameron's unsuccessful attempt to put an end to the simmering debate among the Conservatives about the UK's EU membership. He wanted to silence the EU-critical voices of the party's right wing and at the same time stop voters from fleeing to the Eurosceptics of the UK Independence Party. But the whole project is a massive mistake, a political game in which the stakes are irresponsibly high.”

1000 A Mi Hazánk (HU) /

Without EU Moscow would control Hungary

Fears are rife in Hungary that a Brexit could also prompt Viktor Orbán and his government to leave the EU. But that would put Hungary's fate in the hands of Moscow, Péter Béndek writes on the blog 1000 A Mi Hazánk:

“Orbán would lose his appeal very quickly and cut a very poor figure in the history books. In his own interest he should avoid such a scenario. ... If Hungary exited the EU, Orbán would effectively be voluntarily pushing his country into Russia's arms. ... Let it be understood by those in Hungary who are worried that EU membership has stripped us of our independence and sovereignty: they would be amazed at how quickly our country's sovereignty would disappear if we exited the EU. In all likelihood Hungary would fall under Moscow's tutelage and Orbán would only remain prime minister as long as he served Putin's interests.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Gross exaggeration on both sides

In the Brexit debate neither side is using objective arguments, Süddeutsche Zeitung complains:

“The most popular stylistic device is gross exaggeration. The EU opponents warn of uncontrolled mass immigration that will rob the British of their jobs, while the supporters predict that a Brexit would cost every household in the country thousands of pounds per year. If the two camps are to be believed, Britain is facing chaos and ruin whatever it does. All this is somewhat surprising because Britain's relations with the EU were always shaped by pragmatism in the past. … One would have expected a rational assessment and an equally rational decision here. But because the EU opponents suspect that such an assessment would inevitably produce the conclusion that it is in Britain's best interest to stay in the EU, they have emotionalized the debate. And they have succeeded in making the Remain campaign believe that it must respond to emotions with emotions.”

La Stampa (IT) /

British still dreaming of empire

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the debate on the Brexit is so emotionally charged, La Stampa rejoins:

“The strong emotions that the subject of Europe provokes are nothing new in a Britain that still mourns its imperial (and imperialist) past and is not sure that it belongs geographically or culturally to Europe. … For many other European countries modern history prior to the establishment of the EU was a series of dictatorships, bloodbaths, colonial adventures and then two devastating world wars. But Britain has an alternative 'history', at least in theory: a great empire that lives on in its collective memory thanks to the institutions of the Commonwealth. The 'splendid isolation' of this empire no longer exists, writes the British historian Vernon Bogdanor. But in the subconscious of the British something of that isolation undoubtedly still remains.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Moscow is behind anti-European movements

The dangers posed by a Brexit should not be underestimated, Rzeczpospolita warns:

“The referendum announced by Cameron is an example of the anti-European movements that have steadily gained ground in recent years. It's no coincidence that Russia is giving political and financial backing to these initiatives. Because they are the source of massive unrest in the West and are tearing apart the EU as a political and economic community. The particularists and nationalists are playing a similar role today as the pacifists did in the communist era. The only difference is that these 'useful idiots', as Lenin once called them, had no chance of gaining power back then. Now they really do.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Brexit will protect British from EU's anti-Semitism

Exiting the EU would protect Britain from the hostility towards Jews that is gaining ground on the European continent, columnist Angela Epstein writes in The Daily Telegraph:

“What if joined-up political lunacy ever spread across Europe again? Would Britain be so well-equipped to stand alone were we to be yoked together in an already legitimate alliance with Europe? ... It's clear that Europe has a problem with bloodthirsty, visceral anti Semitism. Look no further than the jihadist murders of Jews in Brussels, Paris, and the Danish capital of Copenhagen over the past 12 months, or the heinous attacks in Toulouse three years ago when a gunman shot dead a teacher and three children at a Jewish school in the French city. … I'm voting out.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Prime Minister thinks voters are idiots

Cameron's threats on Monday that a Brexit could trigger war are nonsense, writes the Financial Times:

“Such inflammatory language about war is a sure way to rile both Eurosceptics and floating voters. For those undecideds, it looks as if the prime minister is having to resort to hyperbole and blood-curdling threats to scare people into backing Bremain. This does not make strategic sense, given that the strongest cards the Remain side has are clear and powerful arguments on trade, economy and stability. ... The prime minister knows Brexit will not lead to war; voters understand this too. He should remember that we are not idiots and can cope with the more considered arguments for remaining within the EU.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Cameron a true statesman

La Vanguardia sees David Cameron's speech at the British Museum against a Brexit as confirmation that he is a truly high-calibre politician:

“Dismantling the thesis put forward by the supporters of a Brexit that leaving Europe will give the country control of its borders once more, the prime minister - a stronger proponent of the EU than ever before - made the case that isolation has never been good for the UK and that the fight against terrorism requires the sharing of information among the EU partners. Although the country's polls are tending towards an exit from the EU, Cameron is proving to be a statesman, which, as Churchill once put it, is a politician who doesn't think of the next election but of the next generation.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Everyone loses out with referendum

A Brexit would be extremely dangerous for Europe, Il Sole 24 Ore fears:

“It would open Pandora's box and spark a flood of accusations and potential new exit scenarios in Poland, Hungary, Czechia or even some Eurozone countries like Finland and the Netherlands. In strengthening separatist and Eurosceptic movements within individual countries, a Brexit would not only thwart integration in the European Union, but also - and above all - in the Eurozone. ... The referendum will simply highlight all the weaknesses and flaws in the European construction. It is not constructive even in the context of the public debate, as the current tenor shows. Whatever the result of the vote on June 23, we have all already lost.”

More opinions

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) / 17 June 2016
  Brexit would be Cameron's fault
La Tribune (FR) / 13 June 2016
  EU should campaign more actively for Bremain (in French)
The Daily Telegraph (GB) / 11 June 2016
  British would not join today's EU
Cumhuriyet (TR) / 13 June 2016
  Brexit would be proof that capitalism has failed (in Turkish)
Ouest France (FR) / 08 June 2016
  British also voting on UK's unity (in French)
The Guardian (GB) / 06 June 2016
  The EU needs British Euroscepticism
The Guardian (GB) / 01 June 2016
  Bremain camp strengthens rivals by mocking them
The Daily Telegraph (GB) / 16 May 2016
  Brexit fans: Like Donald Trump but with better hair
The Irish Times (IE) / 12 May 2016
  EU army would also be in Britain's interests