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Joschka Fischer at the University of Cambridge: The Implications of Brexit for the European Union

last modified Apr 22, 2015 07:58 PM
Joschka Fischer at the University of Cambridge: The Implications of Brexit for the European Union

L-R: Prof. Brendan Simms and Joschka Fischer at the Old Combination Room, Trinity College

On January 23 2015, the Project for Democratic Union, together with POLIS and the Faculty of Law the University of Cambridge, hosted an event featuring esteemed politician and former Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany, Joschka Fischer.

The event took place in the Old Combination Room of Trinity College. Fischer spoke about the implications of the Brexit debate for the European Union and the current state of the Union more generally. Throughout the talk, Fischer stressed that he believed in the idea of a 'United States of Europe', though it remains to be seen what exactly this Union can and should look like. By pointing to the continent's unique and diversified history and culture(s), he argued that a federal model akin to the United States of America is unfeasible. We shouldn't expect countries like France to give up their sovereignty and, by that, part of their national identity, he argued.

He went on to discuss how preserving national and regional identities and traditions is certainly one of the key challenges we face on our way to an ever-closer union, however, going back in time via disintegration and re-nationalisation is not an option. To that end, the EU needs to do much better to stabilize every single member state. That this can't be done through strict austerity measures alone ought to be obvious by now. It is simply not possible to reform and reduce the deficit at the same time, Fischer said.

Regarding a possible exit of the UK, or 'Brexit', Fischer maintained that the debate alone is already weakening Europe. It is a dangerous game that David Cameron is playing. Brexit would leave both the EU and the UK in bad condition. The UK, however, is more dependent on the EU than the other way around. In Fischer's words: "Does the EU need Britain? Yes! Does Britain need the EU: Yes, yes!"

Leaving the single market, thereby damaging London's role as a financial market place would severely hurt Britain's economy. More importantly, though, it would cause a dangerous shift in geopolitics, weakening the EU as well as hurting the relations between Europe and North-America. "If Britain would leave the EU – what a day for Putin's Moscow."

Original article can be found here.