Was Brexit a peculiarly British aberration or does it reflect anxieties which are also held elsewhere? In 2016, Donald Tusk declared `It would be a fatal error to assume that the negative result in the UK referendum represents a specifically British issue ——- the Brexit vote is a desperate attempt to answer the questions that millions of Europeans ask themselves daily —-. ‘
The European idea was developed in the 1940s and 1950s by elites. In President Macron’s words, they `built Europe in isolation from the people because they were an enlightened vanguard’. Can `ever closer union’ really be achieved by popular consent amongst 27 highly diverse member states at very different levels of economic development?
The Monnet/Schuman conception of Europe, which animated the earlier stages of European integration, is now a handicap to progress, Few countries are prepared to accept the further sacrifice of sovereignty which it involves. It needs to be replaced by what Angela Merkel in her Bruges lecture of 2010 called the Union method – coordinated action by national governments. It was indeed that method that was used to resolve the Eurozone crisis in 2011-12.
The EU will remain primarily an intergovernmental institution in which the member states dictate the pace of change. But it will be an intergovernmental organisation with a difference, since the member states will consider not only their own national interests, but the interests of Europe as a whole. Had that perspective been present in 1914 war would have been avoided.
Vernon Bogdanor (Professor of Government at King’s College, London) will speak.
Dr Hartmut Mayer (Director, European Studies Centre, St Antony’s, Oxford) will chair.
For further information please see: www.sant.ox.ac.uk/events/eu-without-britain-never-closer-union