The Corner

Brexit: A Leap Out Of the Dark?

If you asked me to give you just one reason why I do not think that Brits will vote for Brexit on June 23 it will be their unwillingness to take what is widely portrayed as a leap in the dark. That makes this Financial Times article by Wolfgang Münchau a very interesting read indeed. Inevitably enough, Münchau leads  with Europe’s migration crisis. He notes that plans to share the refugees across the EU are not going well (that’s an understatement, by the way) and adds this:

Ms. Merkel must take much of the blame. Her open-door policy was anti-European in that she unilaterally imposed it on her own country and on the rest of Europe. She consulted only Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann.

Just remember that when you read admiring descriptions of Merkel as the “indispensable European”.

The EU is, argues Münchau, at risk of four fractures. Two (over the euro and Schengen) are between north and south, the third is between east and west (not least over immigration)  and the fourth is Brexit.

Now read on (my emphasis added):

A refugee crisis spinning out of control is ultimately more dangerous for the EU’s future than a fragmenting euro. What makes the refugee crisis politically more fraught is that this time France and Germany are at opposite ends of the argument. At the Munich Security Conference earlier this month, I was not surprised to hear Manuel Valls, French prime minister, reaffirming his opposition to additional refugee quotas, but I was surprised to hear him criticise Ms Merkel directly. It was not France that invited the refugees, he said.

The political impasse over migrants tells us that the EU’s open borders are inconsistent with national sovereignty over immigration. The member states will have to choose. They will choose sovereignty.After nearly 60 years of European integration, we are entering the age of disintegration. It will not necessarily lead to a formal break-up of the EU — this is extremely unlikely — but it will make the EU less effective.

What is certain is that the refugee crisis adds a further layer of complexity to the British debate. It is not clear what kind of EU the British people are being asked to remain in, or to leave.

The essence of the EU’s ‘ever closer union’ is that it is never in a state of stasis. That means that a  decision to ‘remain’ offers much less certainty than is usually claimed. But that’s a relatively subtle point.  That said, throw in a crisis—a fire in the hold, so to speak—and the risks of remaining will become very much more visible.

That’s food for thought.

And so is this (via DW):

Speaking on public television on Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany’s borders would remain open to refugees. Merkel dismissed a “rigid limit,” saying that “there is no point in believing that I can solve the problem through the unilateral closure of borders.”  “I have no plan B,” Merkel said, adding that she is convinced she is on the right track with efforts to redistribute refugees within Europe and addressing the problems causing mass displacement: “I am fighting for this approach.”

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