Sunday, May 15, 2016

UK tutorial: What you need to know about the EU referendum

As a knowledgeable EU citizen, with a big love for the city of London and the British culture in general, what is happening now on the other side of the European pond, especially the perspectives that the UK will leave the European institutional framework is of high interest for me. As a journalists that covered often EU affairs, especially EU Councils and bigger than nights discussions on the budget, I reckon that there are many problems within the Union, especially when it comes to coordination of policies and efficiency of the vast bureaucracy. However, the freedom of movement and the working rights as well as the children benefits and food prices are strong incentives for the need of Europe, although a reformed one.
On 23 June this year, British voters are expected to decide if to 'leave' or 'remain' part of the EU, a referendum decided after many intensive discussions for criticism against the Union. Besides the political discourses and rhetorics, it is the right of the voters to know what each of the choices does involve. A Guide for Voters, by David Torrance is aimed to offer exactly this missing milestone from the public debate: a balanced, documented perspective about the EU institutions, the relationship between EU and UK and all the big policy issues at stake, such as sovereignity, education, employment, environment, migration and trade. It also explains what are the EU institutions and how they work, covering even the most 'exotic' institutions for the large public, such as the European Court of Auditors or European Data Protection Supervision.
In a neutral, journalistic style, it approaches one by one, the main points of debate about 'Brexit' - abbreviation for Britain and Exit - such as: 'How much does the EU costs?', the real costs of migration, the advantages of the free trade agreement and the ways in which British citizens rights living abroad will be affected.
It also overviews the points of view among the voters from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, the beneficiaries of many structural and regional EU funds.
There are several possible scenarios if the UK will finally decide to 'leave': either a Norway model, or a Swiss solution, becoming part of the European Free Trade Agreement, entering the EU customs union, an increased role in the WTO, or looking forward to being as strong as the BRIC countries.
The 'remaining' solution will mean anyway a renegotiation of some EU agreements, as decided this February in Brussels.
As for now, the opinion polls are unclear about any of the options. Around 20% of the voters are undecided. Three big TV debates are scheduled, the first one on BBC, this Thursday, in Glasgow aimed at the young voters.
I will carefully keep in eye on everything because either decision will have a dramatical influence on the EU future.
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange of an honest review

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