Published on July 2nd, 2013 |
by Robin White
Image © Cradle
One In One Out in Europe
For the people and the politicians of Croatia the first day of July marked the first day of the newest chapter of history for this young nation. As of this day Croatia officially becomes the 27th member of the European Union, following a 10-year application process during which the bottom has well and truly dropped out of the European economy. In the same week that the Union expands once more MP’s in Britain will go to the vote on a European referendum, which may well mark the beginning of a new policy towards Europe. For the Union, then, this first week of July 2013 will be one that directs the policy of its future. Is it going to be a case of one country coming into the community whilst another prepares to detach itself?
Taking the second of these two European instances first, what does this referendum really mean for Britain and for Europe? Many of the Conservative MP’s make no secret of their desire to remove Britain from the ‘shackles’ imposed by the archaic Union. I say archaic for a distinct reason, it is no longer the 1970’s. The World has changed during the time of the European Union and, therefore, adaptation and evolution is a necessity for the future. IN this time of Economic hardship the European Union has to find a way to salvage the Eurozone crisis and to aid its members as they limp slowly out of austerity and back to prosperity. The question though, for Britain, has become, is it time for us to strike out alone once again; the Tory’s hark back to the glory days of the island nation and see a split with the Union as the key to the restoration of that.
Why is it so important to the Conservatives to push forwards with this referendum? What is it that they actually hope to achieve? In reality whatever the outcome is from the referendum a move away from Europe would undoubtedly be a disaster. Even in times of trouble within the European Union it can never be an option to merely cut and run, taking away any influence that Britain can, and does, exert. At a time of crisis in the Eurozone it is more important than ever for major European nations to stick together and show a sense of solidarity. By calling for a referendum the backbench Tory MP’s are simply undermining a Union that is already in a state of crisis.
The second question that needs to be addressed though is why Croatia would still look to join a Union in a state of crisis. Why would a country with huge unemployment and massive economic problems seek to join an entity that has its own economic problems? The bailouts of Greece, Spain and Ireland; the German calls for austerity; and the British disillusionment with Europe surely suggest that this is not the time to join. Yet the celebrations in Croatia on its arrival as a fully-fledged member of the European community suggest a genuine sense of happiness at the situation. Some of the Croatian people genuinely believe that the benefits of the European Union outweigh its failings. If a country from the outside is still seeking to join then to me that implies we are still doing something right.
This contrast of countries is the point that I am trying to allude to in this. On the one hand we have Croatia, a country that sees the European Union as a step towards bettering themselves and their country. On the other hand we have Britain where a serious question is being raised as to whether we would be better off outside of the Union. What is it that makes these countries see this so differently? Is there a tangible and comprehendible reason as to why one nation would see the benefits over the failings so much clearer than another? I simply think that only time will reveal an answer to that question, however, I do think that Croatia in this instance has the right of it. Now is not the time for isolationism and for running away. Now, more than ever, we need to see solidarity and Union between all countries that make up the European Union.
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