We have debated what a withdrawal or renegotiated relationship with Europe would mean for Britain. But what would a Brexit or new relationship mean for the rest of the EU, other member states, allies, and the global standing of both Europe and the United Kingdom? Analysts from other EU member states and beyond give us their perspectives on the implications of a change in Britain's relationship with the Union.
Reaction to the speech in the UK was considerable. While it is not actually certain that a referendum will be held, it seems increasingly likely. And with opinion polls pointing strongly toward a Eurosceptic vote, the UK could be headed toward leaving the EU.Britain’s relationship with the EU has always attracted considerable comment, not least in the UK itself. This was certainly the case in early 2013 when Prime Minister David Cameron committed a future Conservative government to renegotiate the Britain’s relationship with the EU, which would then be put to the British people in an in-out referendum.
There has been a great deal of debate about what a withdrawal or renegotiated relationship would mean for Britain. Yet by focusing on the UK we overlook the equally important discussion of what such a move could mean for the rest of the EU, other member states, Europe's allies, and the global standing of both Europe and the UK. If Britain exits the Union, this would change the EU, transform the UK’s relations with the EU and its members, and have implications for the UK and the European Union’s position in the world, as well as for relations between member states left in a union without the United Kingdom.
The UK would need the other 27 EU member states to agree to a renegotiated relationship, so it is crucial to understand other countries’ debates on Britain’s plans in order to assess the likelihood that David Cameron can secure his goal. To date there has been little to no attempt to bring together discussion or analysis of what a UK withdrawal or renegotiated relationship would mean for other countries in and beyond the European Union.
This project therefore shifts the perspective of the debate by asking colleagues from think tanks, research institutions, and universities across Europe and beyond how the UK’s current policies toward the EU are being discussed in their country. Over the next half a year we will be publishing several overviews each month on IP Journal.
Contributors have been asked to provide a short overview of the discussions and opinions in their country. For those states within the EU, suggested questions to guide their work include:
1. What debate has there been about the UK’s relations with the EU? What role is Britain seen as having played in the EU?
2. What official government statements and other political opinions have been voiced about the possibility of the UK seeking a renegotiated relationship with the EU?
3. What is the attitude of the general public toward the UK and its relations with the EU? Are there any opinion polls or other measures of public opinion that provide data on this?
4. What are the views of British aims to reform the EU and how to manage relations between the eurozone and the rest of the EU?
5. What impact would a UK withdrawal from the EU have on your state and its relations with the UK?
6. What approach would your state like to see the UK take toward the EU?
For states outside the EU such as the United States and China the questions were slightly adapted:
1. What debate has there been in your country about the UK’s relations with the EU? What role is Britain seen as having played in the EU?
2. What views are their of British aims to reform the EU and how relations between the eurozone and the rest of the EU be managed?
3. What impact would a UK withdrawal from the EU have on your state’s relations with the UK?
4. What impact would Britain's withdrawal have on your state’s relations with the rest of the EU?
5. What approach would your state like to see the UK take toward the EU?
We hope this project will shed light on the so far largely overlooked angles of Britain’s future relationship with the EU, and inspire some new thoughts in London and other capitals on the implications of a British withdrawal from the European Union. With this we also aim to contribute to the wider reform debate about the European Union, including the question of differentiated integration between the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of the eurozone.