After Brexit: is Europe over?

Tuesday 8 November, 19.00 - 20.30 , Free Thinking Zone, Skoufa 64 str & Grivaion, 10680 Athens Battle of Ideas Europe


In the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the EU earlier this year, questions have arisen about the future of the European Union. Eurosceptic movements are growing across europe with varying degrees of animosity to EU institutions, from those demanding radical reform of the EU to those demanding its abolition. France’s Front National issued a call for ‘Frexit’, Dutch populist Geert Wilders promoted ‘Nexit’, and ‘Grexit’ is still widely discussed. Discord in EU member states over diminished national sovereignty in law making, border control and the economy, and questions about the EU’s democratic accountability seem unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Is the EU in danger of disintegration? And is it even worth trying to save?

Originally conceived as a trading bloc, the EU has moved towards political union in the 1990s and 2000s, yet these shifts towards an ‘ever closer union’ were often not voted for by the citizens of EU states, and were actually rejected by plebiscites in France and the Netherlands in 2004, before being shelved and replaced with the Lisbon Treaty, which did not require a referendum in most countries. This lack of democratic accountability and the EU habit of ignoring the results of referendums in member states from Ireland to Greece has led to increasing disenchantment. A Pew Poll earlier this year found that 70% of Greeks had an unfavourable view of the EU, and 90% disapproved of the EU’s imposition of harsh austerity in Greece and its handling of the migrant crisis. In a democracy such high numbers of discontented citizens should in theory lead to political change, yet the EU has remained largely unmoved by Greece’s plight.   

International media widely reported the Brexit vote as a terrible mistake, a step into the past, leaving behind the economic stability, unity and free movement guaranteed by the EU. Yet for years economic growth in Europe has been weak, while its institutions seem distant and largely unaccountable to the peoples of Europe. Which leads many to ask what the EU is actually for? As the United Kingdom leaves what is the way forward for the EU? Will other member states hold their own referendums to ask their citizens if they wish to follow the UK out of the union? Should the EU reform its institutions to be more democratic and perhaps even cede a measure of sovereignty back to member states as a way of appeasing anti-EU sentiment? And, does it have the political will to do so?

This event is free and unticketed. For more information contact Geoff Kidder