Our globally-minded small island likes to think that it has and always will have a seat at the top table as far as global policy-making is concerned. Yet turning our backs on the world’s second largest trading block is a real possibility in a referendum that will likely change Europe forever – whatever the outcome.
Our partners in the EU are anxious. Our potential exit is their future in the balance. So says a sample of members of the Interel Global Partnership who shared their thoughts on local reactions to the noise and fury over the English channel.
So what did our European partners have to say? Visit our ‘What Europe Thinks’ page now.
One key theme emerged strongly. We may think that our European partners would be keen to see us gone. It’s simply not true. Our survey demonstrated irrefutably that our partners want us to stay. Not because they agree with or approve of our sometimes disruptive negotiating tactics. Nor because they are anglophiles at heart. They want the UK to stay because all over Europe, people are raising questions about the future of the EU itself. Nationalist movements are growing in importance in countries which are facing economic stagnation or decline and at the same time, handling influxes of displaced people.
The EU seems distant. All over Europe, people want solutions and accountability, and they want it closer to home.
Almost all our partners around Europe cited worries about local ‘leave’ movements, Plexits, Crexits, Swexits and in some countries, they’re making their voices heard. The Netherlands recently voted down a treaty on future relations with the Ukraine which would have been uncontroversial even 5 years ago.
Many, surprisingly, talked of the ‘loss of an ally’ at the EU negotiating table, or talked of the need for the UK as a strong partner in the fight for a less bureaucratic, more accountable and reformed EU structure.
Whatever the outcome of the UK’s referendum, one thing is for sure – the EU will never be the same again. The genie is out of the bottle and reform, whether wholescale or slow and steady, now seems inevitable.
Want to know more? Click here for our ‘Tour d’Europe’ and hear the voices of 12 Europeans on what a Brexit means for them, their businesses and their populations.
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