I’ll go out on a limb and make a predication; in about 10 years from now, the Uk will not be part of the EU… or at least (I’m always one for hedging bets) if we are, it will not be anything like our current membership.
The current crisis within the EU is going to require further strides towards federalization. Fiscal unity of one kind or another, which would allow the bailing of out nations in the future – rather than the austerity measures currently being implemented in southern Europe – along with a united European presence on the world stage, these will be crucial elements the EU will have to adopt if it is to survive.
In the not too distant future, countries like China, India, Brazil and others will push current powers like France, Germany and the Uk into the cold. Further, as budgets are squeezed, defence budgets will shrink and the joint usage of military resources will become more and more appealing for European nations as a method of cutting their budgets whilst increasing their military presence. (Much of this is already happening.)
The EU has ultimately always been a strive towards federalism anyway. Incrementally, piece by piece, but constant and unswerving. The euro became a point of no return for its adopters. From there, some form of fiscal union was not just a next step, but an essential action to take to avoid… well, what’s happening now…
Meanwhile, the Uk has always been resistant. The euro has not (and never will) made it over here. Resistance to a loss of national sovereignty outweighs the gains of a stronger, united voice in the public’s mind. And whilst each step towards greater unity for the rest of Europe has been a step towards a federal Europe, the result in the Uk has been greater and greater hostility.
Our failure to adopt the euro and the strong resistance towards the EU amongst the public mean that even a pro-Europe government will be able to accomplish nothing more than 2nd rate membership deal. It’s entirely possible such a tiered membership could be forged – and would happen with or without the Uk anyway. The new eastern European countries and potential new members (as well as maybe Greece et al) could form a 2nd tier. An entry-level EU membership, of sorts. It’s possible to imagine the Uk here. Perhaps embarking on joint defence ventures, aligning similarly on foreign affairs, but still retaining independence economically and fiscally.
However, the second possibility is that of exit from the EU altogether. This could take place even with a pro-EU government at the helm. Perhaps the EU will demand nothing but total acceptance when the next bout of changes arrive. Maybe the calls for a referendum become too hard to ignore in the face of an all or nothing membership.
And the reality of a referendum must mean an exit.
Plus there’s the Tories. Hard up in the polls, with annoying right wingers in need of placating on the backbenches… what better than an EU referendum to solve such woes?
In that event, we wouldn’t be cut and done with the EU of course. Some kind of deal would be reached regarding travel, trade and whatnot. But it would mean an exit nonetheless.
The only possible hope is a victory for the EU in a referendum (not even an EU in-out referendum, but a treaty referendum would probably suffice, in the mid-term at least.). A sound, solid affirmation of the Uk’s continued support. But then, how likely is that? With the majority of the media against any further integration and most likely backing an ‘out’ campaign, I just don’t see us remaining part of the EU too far into the future.
10 years…ish, 2020-2025. May this blog post stand as testament to my abilities as an oracle…
(Or not… either way’s good.)