EU Referendum: 'Remain' victory would not be a blank cheque
Even if the UK remains a member of the EU, the bloc must undergo serious reform | Photo credit: Press Association
It is reported that Berlin will come forward with a series of reforms to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the founding treaty of Rome next year.
British media reported a senior source in Berlin stating that the anniversary of the treaty of Rome in March next year “would be a moment to restart” the European project, which could be the start of a new treaty that would deepen Eurozone integration.
However, the push for further EU integration – one of the policies opposed by the UK and one of the factors for a possible Brexit – has been flagged up by Spain’s foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo, who on Thursday authored an op-ed for El País entitled, “More Europe, whatever happens.”
Meanwhile, Belgium’s Prime Minister, Charles Michel says the referendum on Thursday is a “clear signal all over Europe, not only in Britain, of discontent.”
He said, “We’ll see what happens, but whether it’s a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, it will mean a new Europe, a different Europe.”
Belgium is a founding member of the EU and traditionally one of the member states pushing for an “ever closer Union.”
Even so, in an eve-of-referendum message, Michel said, “I would like to propose a ‘conclave’ to unite the European leaders. Then they should speak out on which European projects they want. These projects should have more positive and more concrete effects on European citizens.
“European decision-making should become a faster process. Now, people are turning their backs on the EU because it works too slow,” he added.
“People feel the hesitation. They have the feeling that the EU is spending more time on managing crises than on a positive project for the future.”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC on Wednesday that he intended to reopen the discussion over EU free movement in the event of a ‘Remain’ vote.
This comes despite a warning this week from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said, “We have concluded a deal with the Prime Minister. He got the maximum he could receive.”
Elsewhere, Vincenzo Scarpetta, of the UK-based think tank Open Europe, has argued, “The worst mistake would be to see a ‘Remain’ vote as a blank cheque to continue with business as usual in the EU. A ‘Remain’ vote in the UK should instead boost momentum for further in-depth reform of the EU.”
His colleague Pieter Cleppe said, “Europe should wonder why it has become so unpopular. Given the likely high support for Brexit in the UK, as well as widespread scepticism on the continent, the wrong thing would now be to transfer more powers to the EU. The opposite should happen.”
Meanwhile, a Brexit might have unexpected consequences – it could cost the UK its place in Mini Europe, a Brussels theme park where famous European landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, the Acropolis and Mount Vesuvius, are recreated in miniatures.
If Britain votes to leave, British models such as the Houses of Parliament, Anne Hathaway’s cottage and a 1970s vintage British Rail intercity train would be removed from the theme park.
Thierry Meeùs, Mini Europe’s owner and director, told this website, “The UK could not stay in the park and that would be a real problem.”
Meeùs said the British would be missed, not only because last year he spent €120,000 renovating Big Ben and its clock tower, finished with gold leaf.
“It would be a real hole in the European history that I would like to show here,” he added.
In Mini Europe, he said there is no half-in/half-out, meaning no place for European free trade association members Norway or Switzerland, or for EU hopefuls Albania and Kosovo. Meeùs said he turned down a request from Turkey because it is not a member state.
Meeùs hopes the UK will stay because it makes “a positive contribution” to the EU, adding, “British people oblige many European countries to ask the right questions – why are we doing this?”