Note from Brussels by Petros Fassoulas Secretary General of European Movement int. : The proposal for a new settlement for the UK within the EU.

By Brexit and Grexit

Note from Brussels – The proposals for a new settlement for the UK within the EU.

The President of the EU Council has written to heads of state and government with his proposals for a new settlement for the UK within the EU. They are the outcome of intense diplomacy between the UK, the EU institutions and fellow member states.

Mr Tusk’s proposals address the four areas in the UK’s current membership terms which the British Prime Minister highlighted as in need of reform.

In broader terms the draft deal represents a compromise, which includes the following:

-The right to ban EU citizens from claiming in-work benefits as soon as they move to the UK. The ban can last up to 4 years and it can be triggered only when extraordinary circumstances occur.The UK (or any other member state) will also have the right to restrict free movement in case “the conduct of an individual poses a present threat to public policy or security”.

-A mechanism to “facilitate the coexistence” of euro and non-euro countries within the single market. This does not constitute a veto but allows the UK (or a group of non-eurozone EU member states) to request that legislative proposals which cover the Eurozone but affect the single market be escalated for political discussion at the European Council.

-The recognition that the EU is a multi-currency union.

-An opt out from “ever closer union” and a recognition that the UK “is not committed to further political integration into the EU”.

-A commitment to increase efforts to enhance competitiveness and an annual audit of EU regulation to reduce red tape and minimise unnecessary EU level interventions.

-A right for national parliaments to block EU legislative proposals, as long as 55% support such a move.

Whereas the exact details, especially with regards to the “emergency breaks” on EU migration and Eurozone governance, are yet to be finalised ahead (or even during) the February European Council, the Tusk letter provides a solid basis for Cameron. It gives him the opportunity to present this as a “victory” and claim that he won concessions that will reshape the UK’s relationship with the EU, even though these concessions might appear unnecessary (there is little evidence that changes to welfare rules will reduce migration to the UK, as research shows that claiming benefits is not the reason EU citizens move to Britain).

It remains to be seen whether Mr Cameron’s Conservative party, the British media and, ultimately, British public opinion will be persuaded. It is worth noting that most of the British press, especially the Eurosceptic tabloid papers, have reacted negatively to the draft deal. But, following what I am sure will be a climatic EU Summit in two weeks’ time, I think Mr Cameron will be able to go back home and say ‘I slayed the dragon’. That’s something that is considered crucial among many pollsters because research has shown that most undecided voters are likely to support the PM’s recommendation to remain in the EU if he is seen to have achieved a good deal in his renegotiation.

Having said that, one must not forget that the renegotiation and its outcome does not feature on the ballot paper. The British people will be asked whether they want to leave or remain in the EU. For the referendum to be won the case for EU membership needs to be made, with conviction and rigour. Simply accentuating the concessions and exemptions Mr Cameron won won’t be enough to persuade people of the merits of EU membership.

Whether what Mr Cameron has secured will strengthen the UK’s place in the EU or make the EU a more efficient and effective organisation, I am not sure about. Ultimately, a member’s place in a club depends on its attitude, its involvement and its wish to assume a leading role, not on a set of legal guarantees, exemptions and safeguards. The UK can be a leader in the EU. But I do not think Mr Cameron’s renegotiation and the EU referendum is about that.

Petros Fassoulas

Secretary General

European Movement International



By Brexit and Grexit



Istanbul Bilgi University

Member of TURABDER

The decision of the British people to leave the EU has produced three types of responses in Turkey. To not a negligible group who are busy in making the ends meet, whatever happens in the EU is their business and is, therefore, of littlerelevance to Turkey. To another group, heterogeneous in nature, including both those who are opposed to Turkey’s search of a future in Europe and those who are fed up with the arrogance with which many members and institutions of the EU have approached Turkey, Brexit shows that the EU is also running into trouble and that trouble may even be existential. This, therefore, is a positive development, an indication of where things may go in the future. A third group, on the other hand, is gravely concerned that an arrangement that has brought stability, peace and prosperity to the continent since after the Second World War is under challenge and this is likely to produce negative outcomes for Turkey.

I do belong to this third group that meets Brexit with anxiety for a variety of reasons. First, the EU constituted not only a framework for European cooperation but also for regulated political competition.  In this framework, Britain played the role of the balancer reminiscent of its role in the balance of power system that prevailed in Europe during the 19th Century. With Britain out, a France that seems to be declining may find German prevalence difficult to digest, a possibility that will place major stress on the Union. Secondly, the British departure may invite others to advocate a similar undertaking. Whileother departures may seem unlikely at the moment, each referendum is not only likely to paralyze the Union temporarily, but also weaken its determination to become a more coherent and integrated entity. Third, a weakened union would deliver less stability and prosperity than now, augmenting the credibility of the arguments of those that are opposed to either to the existence or of further development of the union. For example, a weaker union would be less likely to conclude a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and it would be less capable developing a security framework for the defense of Europe.

Rather than continue with the difficulties Brexit might pose for Europe, let me turn to how it would affect Turkey and its relations. To begin with, a weakened and less capable Europe is a security concern for Turkey, a country that is located in a troublesome region where European commitment as a security provider is always important. Second, the EU had served as an anchor for Turkey in organizing its own domestic politics along democratic lines while expanding the rule of law and the operation of the market economy. Its weakening is likely to affect negatively the nature of the Turkish political system that is already coming under the challenge of one-man rule. Third, Britain had been a strong supporter of Turkey’s accession to the EU. Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will prove dysfunctional for her pursuit of full membership. In this light, it is hardly surprising that some circles have begun to advocate the termination of Turkey’s membership negotiations with the EU.

What does the future hold? An optimist would say that if the British departure paves the ground for a two speed Europe, it might be easier for Turkey to find a place for her in the second tier. A pessimist would identify Brexit as the beginning of the end. If that happens, both all members of the EU and Turkey would end as losers in all domains from security to economics to democracy. That is on outcome that no one wants. Bağlantı


Les électeurs britanniques ont décidé : leur pays va quitter l’Union européenne

By Brexit and Grexit

Les électeurs britanniques ont décidé : leur pays va quitter l’Union européenne.

C’est une catastrophe pour l’Europe, réduite en dimension, affaiblie, peut-être menacée d’autres ruptures. C’est encore plus une catastrophe pour un Royaume-Uni qui apparait aujourd’hui surtout comme un Royaume désuni, entre l’Ecosse et le reste du pays, entre villes et campagnes, vieilles zones industrielles et économie de services, ouverture et repli identitaire.

Les conséquences économiques seront à la dimension de l’événement : chute des bourses et de la Livre sterling – c’est-à-dire, ce qui leur a trop peu été expliqué un appauvrissement de tous les ménages Outre-Manche – hausse de l’incertitude et des anticipations négatives, échanges extérieurs entravés, croissance en berne…

Il ne faudrait pourtant pas jeter la pierre à nos voisins. Rappelons-nous qu’en 2005, les électeurs français (et néerlandais) ont porté un premier coup très dur aux efforts d’unification européenne en rejetant le Traité Constitutionnel. Rappelons-nous aussi que la Grande-Bretagne est, avec la Russie et la Suisse, le seul pays d’Europe qui n’a pas perdu la guerre ; elle a, longtemps seule, fait face à l’hydre nazie et sauver nos libertés. On peut certes s’inquiéter de voir la “démocratie directe” et ses aléas prospérer dans la “Mère des parlements” ; on doit regretter le rejet de plus en plus violent des élites par une population qui se sent incomprise, méprisée, victime des excès de la finance ou de la mondialisation. Cette leçon doit aussi être entendue chez nous.

Mais le retour aux frontières et égoïsmes nationaux n’est pas la solution. La voie est, plus que jamais, celle d’une Europe plus unie, plus solidaire et plus citoyenne, qui sache orienter et expliquer plutôt que règlementer, qui ait une vision de l’avenir et de son projet, qui sache parler aux cœurs et pas seulement aux portefeuilles, pour susciter l’élan. Comme l’a si bien dit Churchill, toute calamité est une opportunité. Aujourd’hui nous avons besoin d’un grand sursaut européen ce qui ne brise pas renforce.