After the Italian Referendum

So much was at stake for Italy, its political class and its economy, and for the European Union (EU) and its member states in the country’s failed referendum on constitutional reform. In the EU, Germany is a particularly sensitive case. The relations between Germany and Italy are a focal point in Europe. They used to be in an asymmetric, albeit comforting, equilibrium.

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10 (pro-EU) reasons to be cheerful after Brexit

As the dust continues to swirl around the momentous Brexit referendum result a month ago (and doesn’t show any signs of settling anytime soon) I suspect many EU sympathisers will be somewhere in the middle of the various stages of the Kübler-Ross Grief cycle: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. So, somewhat incongruosly, are the ‘leavers’. Whereas there are almost as many emotions being experienced on all sides as there are potential options on what will happen next both in terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU as well as the future of the EU itself, in this post I want to set out a number of (pro-EU) reasons – some obvious, some optimistic, others wildly speculative – to be cheerful amidst the uncertainty created by the Brexit vote.

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Sovereignty Safeguards in the UK-EU Settlement

The U.K.-EU settlement, despite being legally binding and only amendable with the U.K.’s consent, does little to reaffirm British sovereignty. It is primarily a set of restatements and interpretations of existing EU law with new proposals primarily in the area of social policy.

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Why Tusk’s Proposal is not so Bad

Should the other EU member states rebuff the UK’s reform demands and seize the opportunity to amend the Constitutional treaties instead? Unlike Federico Fabbrini, who in his post of the 3rd of February proposed they should, I will argue that European integration doesn’t follow a linear path, and it may therefore be necessary to give in to some requests. This would not lead to EU disintegration.

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David Cameron’s EU reform claims: If not ‘ever closer union’, what?

UK Prime Minister David Cameron claims that the reforms he seeks for Britain will be good for the European Union as a whole. That proposition deserves examination. Here we focus on only one, but the most totemic of his demands – namely that the UK wins a ‘formal, legally-binding and irreversible’ exemption from the EU’s historic mission of ‘ever closer union of the peoples of Europe’. Jobs and immigration might stir the masses in the referendum campaign, but it is the issue of ‘ever closer union’ that divides most sharply the sovereignists from the federalists and could, if mishandled, do severe collateral damage to the rest of the EU.

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David Cameron is not a visionary, he is an illusionist

The UK Prime Minister proclaims EU reforms. But the reform steps he demands address none of the actual problems of the EU. Neither on the sovereign debt crisis nor on the refugee and migration crisis any proposals or solutions from Cameron are forthcoming. Instead, he focuses on comparatively insignificant issues that affect the UK. This explains the largely ‘open-minded’ response by most European leaders after the speech.

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Cameron’s EU reforms: political feasibility and legal implications

David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister, has set out his objectives for EU reforms in a speech at Chatham House on 10 November 2015 – objectives which he later clarified in a letter to the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. Cameron’s demands fall in four categories – i) safeguarding Britain’s position in the Union’s ‘variable geometry’; ii) strengthening the competitiveness of the Union’s internal market; iii) bolstering the democratic authority of the EU by strengthening the role of national parliaments in the EU’s decision-making process; and iv) ensure changes to the principles of free movement and equal treatment of Union citizens in access to welfare systems in the host state. The political feasibility and legal implications of these objectives differ quite significantly. More crucially, each of the stated objectives can be interpreted and implemented in different ways. Generally, it seems, Cameron’s success seems to depend on presenting reforms that at the same time address British domestic issues as well as strengthen the EU’s functioning.

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