News > Great Britain or Little England? | EM Germany Telegram on the UK referendum

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Great Britain or Little England? | EM Germany Telegram on the UK referendum

Should I stay or should I go? In their 1982 song, The Clash got to the heart of the question that every Brit faces June 23. The referendum voting ballot is a bit more explicit: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” A spellbound Europe gazes across the English Channel and waits for the result. While Brussels prefers to shut its eyes in the final stretch (banning the “B-word” from official communication), UK Prime Minister David Cameron is rolling up his sleeves and giving his all to the “StayIn” campaign: “We don’t want to be little England, we want to be Great Britain!” Will the Brits follow his lead? Whether yes or no – the vote will have consequences for the whole of Europe. The national shock after the fatal and tragic attack on the British Labour MP Jo Cox especially brings home how important it is to move the exchange of objective arguments and facts to the foreground of the debate.

How do politicians, the economy and society in Germany judge this test of European fortitude? What expectations and which “Plan B” do organisations and institutions have for the worst-case scenario in the biggest European network in Germany? What do pro-European forces in neighboring countries think? A collection of answers and quotations can be found in this EM Germany Telegram.

Published: 20 June | Latest news can be found under the news tags Brexit and Great Britain on our website.

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+++EM Germany President Wend: „Dearest Britons, please stay!“+++


Three days before the vote, EM Germany President Rainer Wend directs urgent words to all eligible voters: “Please, dear Brits and North Irish, remain! We need you, and we need a clear decision with a commanding lead on 23 June. A “just barely in” will be horrible – for you and for mainland Europe!” A “Leave” means risk and a hard learning process ahead: “Please spare yourselves and us all from finding out the hard way that a Brexit will solve none of Great Britain’s problems—that can only be done through brave reforms, in Britain as well as on the continent!” Although a Brexit would not be the end of the world, it would, according to Wend, be untimely: “The greater complicated, macho-inflected, and undemocratic governed world isn’t waiting for Brexit, but a capable Europe marked by diversity and solidarity. Together we can achieve this goal: Let’s make Britain and Europe great again!” | Statement


+++The EU is the answer to global challenges+++


Deputy chairman of the SPD parliamentary party and EM Germany Vice-President Axel Schäfer is optimistic about the upcoming EU referendum. “I am counting on the UK remaining in the EU. Global challenges can no longer be solved on the national level. Therefore a strong community is needed-one that includes United Kingdom. #StrongerIn #VoteStay.“ | Statement



+++Retreat? Wrong!+++


“One can’t escape the mutual dependence that binds European countries together,” claims Frank Burgdörfer,Citizens of Europe member and EM Germany board member. “One can only leave the European Institutions—a step which ultimately, however, leads to a forfeit of influence, increases dependence on the decisions by others and thus diminishes sovereignty. It is here that ‚pro-Brexiters‘ and right-wing populists all over Europe make the same mistake in reasoning.“ He advises: “Keep calm, listen to constructive criticism and stay the course.“ | Statement


+++Bottom Line: More Advantages than Disadvantages+++


Europe needs the United Kingdom! It is above all diversity and a variety of perspectives that make up the European Union. Even though the British are not always the easiest partners, they do time and again ensure fruitful discussions about the direction of the Union, says Kirsten Lühmann, deputy National Chairman of the German Civil Service Federation (dbb beamtenbund and tarifunion) and EM Germany Board member. “I hope that on 23 June the voters will realize and take into account their pan-European responsibility. On the bottom line, the European project has brought more advantages than disadvantages—even for the Brits. | Statement
+++Brexit would be a leap into the Unknown +++


“There is no precedent for a Member State withdrawing from the EU. It would be a leap into the unknown with unforeseeable consequences. The economic consequences would be enormous, international corporations would leave the country and jobs would disappear,” says David McAllister, MEP. TheCDU-Man with the Scottish roots expects that in the case of a Brexit there would be substantial disadvantages for both sides: “The EU needs the United Kingdom and vice versa. For Germany, the United Kingdom is an important partner in the UN, NATO, the G7, the G20 and hopefully will also continue to be one in the EU. Britain is stronger in Europe – and Europe is stronger with Britain!” | Statement


+++Important Crossroads for Europa+++ 


„The assurance of fair social mobility should become a central priority for the EU Commission. Freedom of movement and non-discrimination belong to the concrete advantageous experiences of European integration for employees and employers. These should not be compromised through a deal with Cameron to avoid Brexit,” urges Gabriele Bischoff, Workers‘ Group President of the EESC and EM Germany Board member. She emphasizes the similarities on both sides of the Channel: “We agree with the British trade unions that we can achieve more for employees in the EU together. The decision on 23 June marks an important crossroads for the future of Europe. Whatever the result of the referendum, it will change the EU. | Statement


+++Hope rests on the votes of the Younger Generation +++


“A EU without the UK would be a severe political setback for European journalists. Those who follow nationalists and populists, dig Europe’s grave. We hope that young Brits will realize this 21st-century idea and thus prevent a Brexit. Should, however, a majority decide otherwise, then a EU-withdrawal must be executed consequently and without compromise. Otherwise a political erosion will threaten the entire European Union,” emphasizes Rotger Kindermann, Vice-President of the European Journalists Association (VEJ), with a view to the upcoming referendum. | Statement


+++ Brexit would lead to a Recession in Europe+++


“Joint action has made the EU strong. Economic and political power are especially necessary for asserting oneself vis-à-vis other regions in a globalized world. A British exit would politically weaken the EU,“ says UtzTillmann, Director General of the German chemical industry association (VCI). “The British risk a recession if they ‘Brexit’—a recession which would also hurt the gross national income and industrial production of neighboring countries.” | Statement


+++A Bremain for the good of the United Kingdom and the entire continent+++


“The United Kingdom must remain in the EU. A Brexit would not only harm the UK, but also Germany and the EU. As well as being an economic loss, it would also be a loss of geopolitical importance,” predicts Dr. UlrichGoldschmidt, CEO of the German Confederation of Managers (Die Führungskräfte, DFK). | Statement
+++EU Referendum in the UK: concern in Germany +++


A rejection of the European Union at the referendum on 23 June would mean the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Single Market. “Also German jobs are at stake in the case of a Brexit,” says Volker Treier, managing vice-director of the Federation of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce(DIHK).  “Anxiety within the German business community is therefore high. Many are concerned ,”says Treier. According to a survey conducted by the German Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom, 80 percent of their almost 700 member companies expect negative consequences for their business in the case of a Brexit. | Statement


+++ UK has the opportunity to take on a constructive role+++


The Young European Federalists want the UK to remain a part of the EU. However not at all costs: “Fundamental values, such as the four freedoms of the Single Market, can’t be sacrificed as bargaining chips.The European integration process is already sufficiently fragmented due to the many exceptions, such as to the common currency and Schengen.” JEF hopes for a British ‘Yes’ vote: There would then be a big chance that the UK again play a constructive role in the EU. Nothing would then stand in the way of a continuation of the successful UK policy on Europe practiced by Roy Jenkins, Arthur Cockfield and Tony Blair.” | Statement
+++Britain in Europe is in effect a win-win situation+++


The Chairman of the Deutsch-Britischen Gesellschaft, Hans-Henning Horstmann sees great synergies in the scenario that the UK remains within the European Union: „Europe needs Britain as a leader in the global Anglo-Saxon intellectual, scientific, and cultural community. Britain must keep the gates to this community open for us all.“ | Statement


+++Five Scenarios for after the Referendum+++


“To work on potential scenarios after a Brexit vote, isn’t the summoning of a disastrous scenario, but instead, the preparing for all possible eventualities. If the UK decides to leave on 23 June then panic needs to be avoided and cool heads will be required to work out what the UK’s new status vis-à-vis the EU could look like. In her report for the Jacques Delors Institut—Berlin, Europe expert Heidi Marleen Kuhlmann does exactly that by mapping out five potential EU-UK relationships: “Clear Cut”, “Out”, “Half-Out”, “Half-In” and “In”. She says: The British referendum will permanently change the European Union and the EU will be forced to create a new type of associated Membership for the UK.” | Statement 

+++Debate on the future of the European Union necessary+++


“Independent of the result of the ‘Brexit’ referendum, a broad discussion about the future goals and political organization of Europe is necessary as an ever closer political union clearly increasingly overwhelms citizens.The acting capacity of individual European states has to again be allowed more room,” notes Dr. Michael Wolgast, Chief economist of the German Savings Bank Association (DSGV). “This framework would allow for different integration ‘speeds’ and temporary setbacks. An exit of the United Kingdom from the EU would lead to an initial phase of uncertainty as the EU and the UK lead difficult withdrawal negotiations. |Statement
+++Employers would pay the price in case of a Brexit+++


“In case of a Brexit, employers would pay the price. The DGB therefore supports the British trade unions’ initiatives “for staying in.” Together we are stronger, united in diversity!” says DGB Chairman ReinerHoffmann on the upcoming referendum. | Statement




+++Possible Brexit unsettles German companies+++


Uncertainty regarding future business relations with the United Kingdom is palpable in the German economy. In order to avoid such uncertainties in the future, all of us on the continent need to ask ourselves the same question the British have asked themselves—namely the question of the relationship between central political decision-making in Brussels and remaining national sovereignty,” emphasizes Dr. Markus Kerber, Chief Executive of the Federation of German Industries (BDI). | Statement


+++A UK withdrawal from the Union would be the beginning of a weakening of Europe+++


Christian Moos, Secretary General of the German section of the Union of European Federalists (Europa-Union Deutschland EUD) and EM Germany Board member, expects a close vote, but counts on a ‘Yes’: “Either way, the UK would remain a part of the European political order but, in case of a Brexit, the UK would lose the ability to influence its development. I believe that we, Europeans, need to stay together, especially now at a time when freedom and western values are increasingly being threatened from abroad and within. The UK will also in the future be needed in Europe. Moreover, I see a danger that a loose association of European states could form around a non-EU United Kingdom that would act as a competitor to the Union. Such a division would weaken Europe overall.” | Statement

Voices from the European Movement network abroad

+++Important test for the European integration process+++


Petros Fassoulas, Secretary General of the European Movement International (EMI) fears a domino-effect and serious consequences for the European integration process if a majority were to vote for a UK withdrawal from the European Union. “Even though it is clear from the evidence available that the effect of Brexit will be felt hardest in the UK, it is fair to say that the effects will be felt across the Channel too. A British exit from the EU would be a major boost for anti-European parties across Europe and would only magnify calls for such referendums to be held elsewhere. Considering the current public mood across Europe and the political paralysis many mainstream parties are gripped by, nobody can predict which member state (or states) might be next.” |Statement

+++Brexit means loss of control+++


These days Laura Sandys is travelling all across the UK for the European Movement UK to convince the ‘Island’ to stay: „69 Years. That’s how long the European Movement has been campaigning for Britain’s future in Europe. As the first President of the European Movement, my father Duncan worked hand-in-hand with Sir Winston Churchill to make the positive case for uniting Europe following World War II. It’s a legacy I am proud to carry on today. Make no mistake, this referendum is the biggest fight we have faced since those founding days. We’re giving our all to this campaign, and we depend on the support of our members to ensure that we can keep up the fight.“ Armed with facts and numbers, the EM UK is destroying the Myths that the Brexit campaign is spreading. A series of Beach Parties helped clear up that people can enjoy can enjoy clean beaches thanks to the high EU environmental standards. The message is clear: „You don’t get more control over your country by losing control in your continent.“ | Statement

+++Fighting with the #PhoneAFriend campaign +++

By Noelle O Connell, Director, European Movement Ireland

In order to move as many Brits as possible to the voting booths in the upcoming referendum, the European Movement Ireland launched a phone campaign with the slogan #PhoneAFriend,. The campaign allows friends, relatives and work colleagues to encourage each other to register to vote. Executive Director Noelle O’Connellemphasizes the special relationship between the two countries: „Ireland and the UK share a special relationship formed from centuries of strained relations, but consolidated and fortified by our mutual joining of the European Economic Area on the same day in 1973. As part of the EM family, EM Ireland believes that to lose our closest neighbour and strong ally, as well as the fifth largest economy in the world, would be bad for Ireland, bad for the EU, and bad for the UK itself.“ | Statement


+++Don’t give up your ability to influence!+++


Good advice from painful, first-hand experience comes from Norway: „Remain!“ recommends the European Movement Norway to voters in the UK. EM Norway President Jan Erik Grindheim underlines European Union guarantees such as high standards, the rule of law and the freedom: The EU ensures high standards, rights and freedom for all, whilst giving each member country ample of room to devise their own home rule. Britain makes this work. Remain!“ Give up your seat at the decision-making table to then helplessly stand by as others form policies that have a massive impact on your own country? EM Norway board member Torbjørn Torbjørn Wilhelmsen warns of such a self-marginalisation: „Norwegian style democracy is just not that fun. We implement rules from Brussels, but never have a say. Why would Britons choose this? Remain!“ |Statement
+++Brexit could weaken the Danish position in Europe +++


Christine Bosse, president of the European Movement Denmark, outlines possible consequences of a Brexit for her own country: “The referendum in UK does not only have consequences for UK, but for the entire European Union. In Denmark the two-speed Europe will leave us more in the shadow without UK and there are pressures for a Danish referendum as well. The citizens must demand that the nationalistic parties stand up to their responsibility and explain which kind of Europe they want instead of just saying ‘something different’.” | Statement


+++Bilateralism is no option post-Brexit+++



François Cherix, co-President of the New European Movement Switzerland (Nebs), looks back on the last twenty years of his country’s struggles on the path to possible European Union membership. The Swiss model is no aspirational model for the UK post-Brexit: “The view that London would be able to receive the same concessions as Switzerland in case of a Brexit is wrong. Currently nobody can say how the future relationship between the UK and the EU will look. Even if David Cameron would aspire after the Swiss model—something that is not likely if one keeps in mind how he criticized this option in the past—nothing indicates that the EU would want to replicate the ‘Experiment Switzerland’.” |Statement

+++More on the subject+++

On the UK situation before the Referendum


View from the Outside 


Possible Scenarios: What happens after the vote?


An overivew of the two official campaigns

StayIn Campaign:

Funnies from both sides of the Channel

„Soon, there will be only EU opponents in the EU!“ – „Why do we want to leave then?“


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