European Union


The results of the momentous British referendum on whether or not the country must remain in the European Union was announced on Friday morning, with 51.9% of the populace voting in favour of Brexit: Britain’s exit from the EU. The victory was close, with 48.1% voting to remain in the EU. The majority in England voted for an exit, whereas Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. The turnout at the referendum reached 72% with approximately 30 million voters.

British PM David Cameron, in an address to the public, announced that he will continue as PM for the next 3 months, after which the country and the Conservative Party will require fresh leadership. “I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination. But, I will do everything I can in future to make this country great,” he said, after the UK voted in favour of Brexit, breaking over 40 years of post-war legacy.

Consequences of the Brexit poll

Within hours of the result being announced, the pound sterling has crashed to its lowest level since 1985, with bank stocks taking a deep plunge. Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party, who was strongly in favour of Brexit, has termed the victory an ‘independence day’ for the United Kingdom. Cameron who was staunchly in favour of Britain remaining in the EU will have to resign after having been re-elected to office in 2015. He had sought a negotiation with the EU on the terms of British membership, rather than a complete exit.

Those in favour of Britain remaining within the EU believe that the common markets of the EU enable a flourishing British economy and an exit will only be harmful to British business interests since the EU’s policy of free trade will no longer be applicable to the UK. Britain’s exit may in turn weaken the European Union since the UK pays more into the EU budget that it gets out of it.

Indian politicians like Jairam Ramesh have been apprehensive of Brexit, with Ramesh calling the vote a ‘suicide.’  India’s major concern is its trade and foreign investments which may face an adverse backlash. Though financial markets across the world have fallen, Raghuram Rajan said that the RBI is prepared for any eventuality since India has a sizeable amount of foreign reserves.

Ever since Cameron announced in February this year that a referendum would be held to decide Britain’s membership to the European Union, opinion polls have been unable to clearly predict whether or not the country will vote in favour of an exit from the 28-member EU, which traces its origins to the aftermath of the Second World War. In announcing the referendum, Cameron was reacting to the demands of (mostly) Conservative MPs who claimed that the European Union’s regulations, particularly the Eurozone bailouts, were holding back the British economy through excessive control over its businesses. Those in favour of Brexit also pointed out the high levels of immigration into the UK as a reason for quitting the EU and its free movement policy. With the crippling refugee crisis at hand, Brexit propounders sought a tightening of immigration laws to reduce the inflow of workers into the UK, simultaneously seeking a greater degree of autonomy for Britain over its own borders and affairs.

On the international front, POTUS Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have been in favour of Britain remaining within the EU.

Read on to know more about the possible consequences of Brexit: https://dubeat.com/2016/03/brexit-the-possibility-of-britain-leaving-the-european-union/#

Image credits: www.poundsterlinglive.com

Abhinaya Harigovind

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The European Union (EU) has certainly had an eventful year in 2015 dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis; the growing threat of the Islamic State; the disastrous condition of the world economy and the Greek debt crisis among other things. Having avoided a “Grexit” last year, the EU now faces the possibility of a “Brexit” after British Prime Minister David Cameron announced in late February that Britain would be holding a referendum on the country’s membership to the EU on the 23rd of June 2016.

So why exactly would the UK want to exit? The people in favour of leaving, which includes about half of Conservative MPs and (according to online polls) nearly half of the population, believe that Britain is being held back by the EU and that a Brexit would give them the chance to negotiate a new EU relationship. The primary reasons they cite involve trade and immigration. From an economic standpoint, Britain believes that exiting the EU will result in them being able to secure better deals with China, India and America and that Britain’s contribution to the EU budget can be put to better use in scientific research and development. It also believes that it can free itself from EU regulation returning control to the government over fields such as health, employment laws, etc. With the Syrian refugee crisis turning out to be a problem without an immediate solution, Britain also wishes to further strengthen its immigration laws and reduce the number of people coming there to work.

The Prime Minister however doesn’t want a Brexit, but simply wants a re-negotiation of the terms of Britain’s membership. Mr. Cameron has said that if he is able to get the reforms he wants, he will campaign for Britain to remain in the EU in the buildup to the referendum. So what does he want? Broadly speaking, he wants two things. From an economic point of view- to secure an explicit recognition that Euro isn’t the only currency of the EU and that Britain should not have to contribute to Eurozone bailouts. From an immigration point of view- to restrict those coming to the UK from claiming certain benefits until they have been a resident for at least four years. Other than these broad objectives, the UK is essentially lobbying for more sovereignty; to free business from excessive interference; remove trade barriers in the services and digital sector. He has also reiterated his standpoint that Britain would resist any move to join an “EU Army” or adopt the Euro.

So this brings us to the golden question, should Britain leave the EU or not? Well there really isn’t a right answer to it, most big businesses want Britain to stay as do a large number of Britain’s scientists and researchers (Professor Stephen Hawking has said that a Brexit will be “disastrous” for science). On the other hand some business houses and ministers recognise some of the obvious benefits a Brexit would bring and feel that it is the right course of action indeed. Whereas polls at the time show that 55% of Britain’s citizens want to stay in the EU, one can’t really predict how the numbers will change by June.
Shraman Ghosh
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Youth Forum on Foreign Policy (YFFP), an independent initiative to encourage dialogue on foreign policy amongst the youth, organized a joint conference with European Union’s EU in India, held on   23rd February. The panel for the conference consisted of Ms. Anne Marchal, First counsellor of the Delegation of the European Union to India, BW Businessworld’s CEO, Mr. Anurag Batra and Member of Parliament and co- founder of YFFP, Mr. Gaurav Gogoi.

The conference then commenced with a presentation by Ms. Anne Marchal, highlighting the salient features and functions of the European Union. EU was formed after the Second World War and since then it has been the biggest transnational democracy in the world with 24 official languages and flourishing trade relations all over the world. Similar to the foundations of India, EU has a well endowed parliamentary system of legislations with 751 seats, along with various political parties contesting in elections. The EU’s Council of Ministers consists of a member from each EU state and at present they are all under Dutch Presidency, to be rotated every 6months.

India and EU have had strategic relations for over 50 years, the most important highlights being the EU- India security cooperation agreement, Joint Action Plan and annual EU and India security dialogue with emphasis on cyber security and nuclear non proliferation.

The discussion then continued with Mr. Anurag Batra taking the lead, voicing his concern about the areas needing improvement in the EU – India agreement. For example, the free trade agreement, including goods and services to be made easier from both sides as many Indian products fail to match up to the European regulatory standards because of different packaging or processing techniques, among other things. The flow of conversation also steered towards EU being the largest donor of development aid in the world and is still yet to aid India in its Human Development projects. A few other points were raised by Mr. Batra, regarding the ban on import of generic drugs from India to EU states and high taxes and import duties which hinders trade between the two countries. At present, India’s 18% exports are to EU and the number could steadily improve if both the sides agree upon common standards of processing products and aim at minimising difficulties in the trading process. He ended by adding that EU has been India’s “real and steady partner” for many years and he hopes to see the relations flourish even further.

Picking up the discussion from then on, Mr. Gaurav Gogoi, started off with a show of gratitude to Ms. Anne for hosting YFFP and the audience and enabling the youth a glimpse into the EU – India relations. He then went to enunciate the similarities India and EU have had from their inception itself, and how both countries stem from the same belief of “unity in diversity”. Mr. Gogoi went on to say that when India was torn up by its own diversity post independence, EU emerged as a source of inspiration in that turmoil. He personally finds the framework of EU ‘fascinating’ as he has visited the EU Parliament in the past, and he also feels envious of their canteen, he wittily added.      

The discussion then came to an end, after inviting a few questions from the audience, who raised pertinent issues such as limited employment prospects of Indian students in EU states, development aid for north east India and EU’s contributions and the growing threat of terrorism and the refugee crisis which many EU states are facing, among others. The event ended with a vote of thanks for the panellists and the audience followed by evening tea.

DU Beat is the official media partner of YFFP.

Featured Image Credits: Youth Forum on Foreign Policy

Tarushi Varma

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