#UkinEU EU-UK: ‘Sui generis’

| February 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

UK-vs.-EU-460x250By Anna van Densky, Brussels

The United Kingdom’s semi-detached ‘new status’ within the EU, obtained on 19 February, created a different reality, a ’27+1′ bloc, in which the most sacred doctrine of ‘ever closer’ Union has departed, returning the EU apparatchiks back to earth from their high-style rhetoric on ‘common values’ to common market.

Although often criticized, never before have European bureaurats faced a dissent expressed with such startling candour – Prime Minister Cameron’s declaration, ‘I don’t love Brussels’, articulated during the European Council, is in essence similar to Luther’s uprising against Rome, bringing with it large-scale and long-term consequences for the EU establishment and the people of Europe.

The UK deal with the EU in view of the upcoming 23 June referendum is supposed to convince the British electorate to remain as members of the European Union, profiting from their new flexible engagement with the organization – the advantage of their special status, of being ‘in and out’ at the same time.

However, in spite of the outcome of the referendum, even in case British people say ‘Yes’ to Europe and remain the second net contributor to the EU’s purse, the bloc will never return to its previous self. Removing the entire ideological formation and re-establishing the idea of raising living standards of people as the summus finem instead of the creation of a European ‘superstate’ empowering the EU apparatchiks, Prime Minister Cameron has opened a new chapter in the history of Europe, attempting to re-engage the EU to serve the citizens of Europe, but not to serve (their own) political ambitions.

Cameron’s declaration, addressed first of all to his own countrymen and to British businesses, encourages them to co-operate and trade with Europe without discrimination, in spite of reducing the UK’s participation in the EU’s ideological course, thus preserving political decision-making to Whitehall, with the latter having established its supremacy over Brussels without ambivalence forever more.

With the return to the Common Market concept presented as the price for the British to stay on board, tactically the EU institutions have secured a British ‘membership fee’, but strategically are risking the domino effect of spreading the UK’s semi-detached status to other member-states, potentially sliding into an uncontrollable process of disintegration.

A UK referendum is a precedent that might inspire the other ‘donor’ members to follow in Cameron’s footsteps. In the first place, there are those who have already demonstrated their independence, such as the Dutch voting against the European Constitution, or the Danes, who opposed the open-door immigration policy of Germany revoking Schengen.

In the Dutch case, the probability of claiming the semi-detached status is particularly high, as the UK is the favourite destination of Dutch investors, and in return the UK is the second largest investor in the country of tulips. The request for a referendum on the association agreement with Ukraine is a clear indicator of lack of confidence in Brussels – a widespread mood among Dutch citizens.

Next to ‘donor’ members, the eastern European countries have their own reasons for criticizing Brussels – the Visegrad group (V4) – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – is not shy about its discontent with the EU’s migration crisis response, and has suggested an alternative plan, bringing the members of the V4 group even more united by their resistance to the Brussels migrant-quotas plan.

The new Polish government has not made a secret of upgrading its relations with the V4, allowing them to advocate their views in Brussels with more weight. Once seen as a positive force, Visegrad is now regarded with suspicion, as it is perfectly able to claim a ‘special’ status of being under pressure from citizens in those countries who perceive the EU as being inefficient in protecting them against the migrant flows that supposedly endanger their own culture, traditions and customs – a ‘clash of civilizations’. This is an issue that is serious enough to be considered above economic gains.

Paradoxically, by indulging themselves in a ‘European values’ debate, the EU apparatchiks have not realized to what extent these values are dear to Europeans and how heated the debate over the clash of civilizations can become, sidelining the economic benefits. The British referendum is largely about emotions, a clash of civilizations and cultures, where the economic revenues of British businesses in Europe play a secondary rôle, where the success of UK companies in trading with continental Europe does not compensate for the fears of uncontrolled mass migration.

The UK’s new deal with the EU is ‘sui generis’ at the moment – however, no-one can say how long this exception will remain unique.

Auribus teneo Lupum!

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Category: A Frontpage, Brexit, EU, UK

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