The Ball is with the Brits

EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

The future of Great Britain in the European Union is in the hands of David Cameron.

The Ball is with the Brits


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The future of Great Britain in the European Union should be sorted out before the end of this year. In this period, British Prime Minister David Cameron will have presented a concrete plan for the referendum he has announced. It must be agreed what real and decorative concession the UK will get from the EU that will allow them to ask voters to vote to stay in Europe, despite the fact that Cameron has called for a referendum. It will be at the June Summit that Cameron will have to present his position as to what he wants to negotiate with Brussels.

If Cameron moves fast, he can get serious concessions, not by changing the Treaty (this will never happen before Great Britain finalises its status towards the EU), but by “interpreting” certain EU rules to facilitate Cameron with the referendum.

The Europeans will also never change any of the four fundamental freedoms providing for the free movement of goods, services, capital and people. However, on the issue of the free movement of people, Britain may get a favourable interpretation related to pension rights of legal immigrants to the UK.

Even though Cameron announced the referendum for 2017, it is likely to be held in mid-2016 so as not to coincide with the French election – for obvious reasons.

Both sides, the EU and UK, have good reason to stay united. Britain is a nation striving for centuries in open markets, trading and selling financial services. About 40% of the UK’s exports are in banking and financial services. The City of London cannot afford a separation from the EU the more so that the UK has a particularly favourite status.  It is a rather flexible membership that includes all the benefits but few obligations. The UK is a full EU member without being a member of the eurozone, Schengen or the European Banking Union. No matter what, it will not be intelligent to leave the union and remain only a member of OECD and the WTO. The UK will be self-marginalised and will become a small island again.

Last but not least, the EU cannot afford to lose the UK. The City of London is the third biggest financial centre in the world and Britain is a nuclear power. To this effect, Jean Claude Juncker already made a very generous offer to David Cameron. His “Ten Point Programme” provides all that Cameron needs, he offered the Capital Markets Union and he appointed Jonathan Hill, a close associate of the British PM, as the Commissioner for Financial Services and Capital Markets Union.

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