Press releases

Britain and the EU: EPC launches new online space


20 November 2012

Britain’s relations with the EU have reached a critical juncture. Responses to the present economic crisis in the EU entail solutions that are likely to lead to a deeper economic, fiscal, and ultimately political union in the years to come. But the current UK government is adopting increasingly Eurosceptic positions, threatening to veto EU policy developments and moving towards a renegotiation of the country’s relationship with the EU. This is leading the UK to re-examine the merits of its EU membership.

The mood in Brussels, too, has changed. Accommodating London’s requests used to be seen as a necessary price to pay for Britain’s EU membership. But today there is growing impatience with the UK’s aloofness from the integration process and the potential for the country to block crucial developments in eurozone governance.

Indeed, this week’s summit on the EU budget (22-23 November) will be a litmus test for Britain and the EU, with Prime Minister David Cameron pushing for severe cuts to the figure proposed by the European Commission. More areas of controversy are already looming, including upcoming decisions on a banking union, as well as the UK's decision to opt-out from Justice and Home Affairs matters and the next eurozone integration steps.

With this in mind, the European Policy Centre today launched a new online space in which Britain’s future in the EU – and the questions and issues that surround it – will be discussed in a series of short contributions from British, other European and non-European experts, academics, policymakers and politicians. The aim is to give substance to a debate which has so far taken very unclear and ideologically-driven contours, and to make it as public as possible. The initiative will be launched in Brussels but will seek to reach out throughout the EU.

Among the issues to be discussed in the new section are:

  • What is the cost-benefit analysis of Britain's EU membership, and where do British interests lie beyond pro- and anti-European ideologies?
  • Can the EU develop successfully and prosper without Britain?
  • Can further EU and/or eurozone governance integration be accomplished despite the UK veto threats?
  • What is the impact of the UK's changing relationship with the EU on the domestic constitutional debate and the Scottish independence referendum?
  • Are there alternatives to the UK's full EU membership? If so, what might they look like? Are Norway or Switzerland possible models?
  • How do other EU member states view Britain's role in the EU?
  • How do non-EU countries - including the USA - view Britain's relations with the EU?

This week’s contributors are UK Conservative MEP Malcolm Harbour, Honorary European Commission Director-General Graham Avery, and John Palmer of the Sussex University European Institute.

Keep checking the website – and follow us on Facebook – for further contributions from within the UK’s shores and beyond in the weeks and months to come!

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