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Forum on Geopolitics

Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

Studying at Cambridge


Brexit / Euroexit / Europe 2025

Brexit / Euroexit / Europe 2025

As the Eurozone crisis rumbles on, and as the popular political mood of Europe drifts increasingly to the right, the question of Britain's role in the Europe of the 21st century assumes a new, urgent prominence. In 2015 and 2016, the Forum on Geopolitics will convene a series of events to explore various facets of the much-debated 'Brexit', considering whether and how the union should or could be preserved, and were it to be dismantled, whether it is Britain or Europe who should lead the exit.

This project will explore, on the basis of a deep historical understanding, a number of key questions:

    • Can the tension between British concerns for the maintenance of her national sovereignty can be reconciled with the pressing need for the Eurozone to turn itself into a single state in order to deal with urgent fiscal and strategic challenges?
    • Is a full parliamentary Union on Anglo-American lines in fact the only framework that can save the Eurozone?
    • As an exceptional power within Europe which has escaped invasion and occupation for hundreds of years, Britains retains not only a seat on the UN Security Council but also a strong national currency. It will not join a single European state, nor does it really need to. Therefore is what we need a British Europe rather than a European Britain; resulting in not so much a Brexit as a 'Euroexit', in which the common currency area leaves the original EU?
    • Might there be a ‘deal’ to be done in which Britain retained participation in the Single Market and escaped discrimination against the City, in return for a proportionally greater contribution to European security?
    • What are the similarities and differences between the movement for Scottish independence and that for Catalonia, and to what extent can these separate but related drives for nationhood be seen as threats and opportunities for the EU?
    • How would a sovereign United Kingdom co-exist with a single Eurozone state in a new European Confederation within NATO?

As part of this Laboratory, we will embark in 2016 on a year-long scenario-modelling exercise called 'Europe 2025'.


The Problem

Europe is at a critical juncture in its history as three major crises pose the most serious risk to its political order since the collapse of communism. In the EU, a defective single currency zone has caused economic misery in its southern periphery with no obvious solution in sight. In Europe's East, strategic competition between Russia and the West for influence over Russia's border regions has triggered a serious war in Ukraine in which 9,000 people have now died. Meanwhile, spill over from the chaos in the Middle East has severely tested the EU's internal cohesion and solidarity, and triggered a serious crisis in relations between Russia and Turkey. All this poses profound questions about the future of the continent, of which the only certainty is that things will not remain the same.

The Project

In this context, the Forum on Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge plans to conduct the most rigorous, complex and systematic analysis of the near-term future of the European continent to be put into the public domain in recent years, drawing on its knowledge of history and politics, its access to the world's leading thinkers on Europe, and its expertise in geopolitical forecasting. Not only will the analysis add an important element to the understanding of current geopolitical trends in Europe. But by exploring the implications of its findings for security, governance and markets, it will also provide a vital tool for helping policymakers, multilateral organisations and private investors to prepare for a period of acute geopolitical uncertainty.


The project is conceived as a collaborative and inter-disciplinary venture, chaired by Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of the Secret Intelligence Service, and supported by Dr Christopher Bickerton, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Cambridge, and Mr Timothy Less, Director of the Nova Europa political risk consultancy. The first phase will focus on the European Union, making use of the Delphi Method, a powerful forecasting technique which will synthesise the views of selected experts from a range of backgrounds and disciplines to produce a detailed prognosis of the future of the EU. The second phase will look at the European continent as a whole, drawing on the knowledge of regional experts who will lead a series of public lectures, seminars, expert workshops, panel discussions and debates. The project will run from March 2016 to March 2017.

  • For upcoming events relating to this theme, click here.
  • For reports on past events relating to this theme, click here.
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