Read the original text at eurointegration.com.
Once an interesting debate took place at the London School of Economics. Three respected British experts argued, which sign could be the sign of the XXI century.
One told that it would be the century of the US leadership; the other assured about the hegemony of China, the third one was campaigning for the EU star to be the brightest and the most influential in the world.
The last idea could be totally refuted on June 23rd.
If the majority of the Britons vote for leaving the EU, it will be the “beginning of the end” of the EU.
Hundreds of thousands of British men have bought villas and other real estate in Europe; it created the mass tourism on the continent. We can even talk about the new “low-cost generation” of Britons. One million three hundred thousand Britons work in other EU countries, and even more citizens of other EU countries work in the UK.
So famous British Euroscepticism now concerns mainly the older generations of Britons, not youth.
Since the country’s national currency is the pound, the Eurozone crisis did not hurt it directly, but rather indirectly through deterioration of the general economic health of the EU. Similarly, migrant crisis has not embraced Britain, because the island country is not in Schengen. Britain is very careful when it comes to its rights and sovereignty.
As for the EU itself, it also has a lot of claims. Many people do not like excessive bureaucracy of the union. Brussels determines the size and shape of bananas of the EU common market, but it cannot prevent from the migration crisis.
Eurosceptic wing of the ruling Conservative Party inflates the idea of "Brussels diktat" and Independence Party of Nigel Paul Farage. This party says that all the problems come from the EU.
Today, almost half of British exports go to the rest of the EU. What would happen to this trade? Britain is close to losing the global perspective.
Henry Kissinger said about Germany that it is "too large for the whole Europe, but too small for the world." Therefore, Britain is making the EU "rather big for the world," adding huge global added value.
Thus, the British referendum has several aspects that are important for the world, for the EU, and most definitely for Ukraine.
Changing the nature of the European Union
Britain's membership of the EU affects the nature and structure of the EU.
Britain has a conservative, free-market approach to the economy and has less pressure on "social programs." It reinforces the European North, which adheres to the principle that before you spend, you need something to earn and save.
Without the support of Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and the Nordic states would face difficulties in managing the European South with “spend-spend-spend” principle.
This means that the EU and the euro zone are doomed to new serious challenges. Also Britain would destroy the balance between the supporters and opponents of greater integration of EU member states.
Britain has always belonged to the anti-federalist camp of the EU; it is against transformation of the EU into a superpower, against the full absorption of the sovereignty, and against "United States of Europe."
Supporters of Brexit are mostly older people, residents of England.
Most of the supporters of EU membership live in Wales and in Scotland. 70-80% of the population of Northern Ireland maintains EU membership.
Some people are saying about a new referendum on independence of Scotland if the campaign against the EU membership wins.
After 2014, when the Scots by a small margin (55% to 45%) voted for their preservation as part of Britain, one of the key arguments was the desire of Scotland to remain in the EU.
Ukraine and Russia
When talking about the supporters of the European integration of Ukraine, we call Poland, the Baltic States, and Sweden.
However, experts know that Britain supports the European integration of Ukrainian not less than Poland or Sweden. London is not involved in Normandy format talks or in the issue of sanctions against Russia, but Britain actively supports Ukraine.
Influence of London also increases the weight and activity of the European Union on the Ukrainian question. In addition, Britain is traditionally sympathetic to the idea of EU enlargement. In particular, London publicly supports the idea of Ukraine's membership in the EU.
Britain is one of the key Russia’s opponents among the EU member states. Former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said recently that if Britain leaves the EU, it will give an opportunity to Russian President Vladimir Putin to uncork the champagne. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has also agreed with this idea.
So the EU without Britain might lose transatlantic dimension. It would become much weaker, fall into crisis, lose cohesion, and reduce resistance to Putin.
Cheerless prospect, right?
The EU should be different to make the UK stay. It must learn to respond to new challenges not to survive from crisis to crisis. For the current generation the World War II is something very faraway, it was born in a peaceful Europe and expects that EU should play some different role.
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