international analysis and commentary

Cameron has exposed the truth about the state of Europe

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Wolfgang Münchau observed in the Financial Times that, however things turn out, the European Union was finished the moment talk of a Brexit began. In my piece entitled Considerazioni sulla lettera di Cameron a Tusk (“Thoughts on Cameron’s letter to Tusk”) published in Aspenia online on 20 November 2015, I wrote that, on a closer reading, the letter did not concern the future of Europe so much as its present state.

This is because the letter highlighted the current nature of the EU, which however there was no desire to acknowledge, in an effort to bury the truth in the depths of the European consciousness. David Cameron exposed the truth plainly: the EU is a free-trade area for goods between 28 countries, 18 of which have decided to do what the British from the outset said they did not relish doing, namely, delegating monetary sovereignty to a supranational institution. He warned that if members of the euro system had intentions of making decisions that also affected those outside the monetary union, they should not even remotely consider imposing such new rules on others, especially if they were to the detriment of the United Kingdom.

All this makes it clear – if there were any need to – that there can be no political unification, even if with an effort of will we are prepared to assume that Germany and France want there to be. Hence, the prerequisite for the so called euro’s irreversibility falls away. This is an implication of no small relevance, implicit in the content of Cameron’s letter and explicit in the agreement reached to stave off a Brexit. If any further proof were needed, this agreement has reaffirmed that the protection of state borders, and, therefore, the free movement of people, is a sovereign prerogative that the United Kingdom intends to exercise independently. A single market in which there is a free flow of capital but the movement of labor is impeded, and where there are two currencies whose exchange rates fluctuate based also on non-economic events, makes it inappropriate to refer to a common market, because there is no such thing.

It is useless to skirt around the issue: Europe is as the British prime minister has styled it, that is, an alliance where some feel united and others divided. This needs to be acknowledged, while identifying urgently a means by which to hold together this heterogeneous mix. For now, fear for the future is serving as a cohesive agent. Cameron’s statements after the dissent expressed by Theresa May (the British Home Secretary) and Boris Johnson (the Mayor of London) have confirmed that it is fear more than economic interests that is holding intact the dreamed-of Union.

In conclusion, given this view of the EU, Cameron’s position is the most logical. Once the other European countries have understood this, they would even be able to disregard what Münchau has rightly pointed out. The issue deserves a less trite response than that given by Brussels, based on concrete considerations and not a whitewashing of the reality that leaves Europe teetering on the brink. The time has come to determine who the real pro-Europeans are and who are those hiding behind this political fantasy.

Find here the Italian version of this article