As we now celebrate the 60th anniversary of the EU’s founding treaty of Rome in 1957 one can’t help but reflect on the changes we’ve seen ever since the UK’s BREXIT referendum in June 2016, or haven’t you noticed? From the resurgence of the ultra right parties in Europe grounded mainly on racist/xenophobic ideology to the election of the Odd Ball in the United States elections. The signs are clear/well documented that there is a systematic/coordinated assault on values we’ve always cherished; those of Liberalism, Democracy and Multiculturalism-an assault that extends to the institutions built on such values like the EU. Why this assault; well it is simply due to right wing parties utilising legitimate anxiety/fears over continued government policy failures on immigration/integration & foreign policy to further their own narrow agenda of promoting hate/division in our society-oldest game in the book.
Now, in the good old days-pre the 2016 US Presidential election-we always took it for granted that the United States was the voice/ultimate protector of these core values of Freedom/Liberty as a main global power. But now I suspect we have crossed a new threshold post this election and we face a new reality that we need to address swiftly; who can fill that role both in terms hard/soft power as well as providing a model for Liberal Democratic values/traditions. In my mind there is no more viable institution than a “reformed” European Union and the governance models represented by the member states. I highlight the term “reform” because it is becoming quite obvious that the EU in its current rigid/bureaucratic structure and legislative overreach is unsustainable. We also need to learn from US failures in reining in on powerful lobbyist and the murky waters associated with money in politics. That aside we most certainly need a stronger/expanding Europe able/willing to articulate/defend its strategic interests throughout the world and I continue to be convinced that the UK will be part of that and can only urge EU leaders to remember the 48.1% of the British voters who voted to remain in the EU and who continue to fight on. More importantly EU institutions must begin in ernest developing an ambitious reformist agenda to demonstrate they are able/willing to adapt to a changing political landscape and apply the necessary efficiencies in structure/operation.
Finally to all you Brits out there who continue to believe the UK should remain in the EU let me tell you I am with you heart/soul, but then it takes collective action to ensure our voices are heard by our politicians in Whitehall and throughout Europe-rhetoric & statements are convenient but NOT sufficient. Our mission does NOT end by triggering article 50 by the government, it starts from there onwards to ensure that terms are least harmful to prospects of continued long term partnership with the EU and potential revival of membership prospects. I am happy to reach out/collaborate with others because this is battle we need to win.