The Independent View: Why we must talk about the EU now

I guess talking about Europe is not what a party wants come September. With the conference fast approaching, the polls painting a gloomy picture, debate about the leadership raging and the small subject of the economy hanging over everybody, the last thing one needs is a debate about Britain’s place in the EU.

But in politics there is no escaping the big issues. The EU is not just a club we are members of. We are the EU. Our economy is deeply integrated in the wider European economy and our ability to influence the global events that affect us depends to a large extent on the EU’s status. Britain is geographically, economically, politically, culturally, historically part of Europe and the EU. So what happens over there has a pretty heavy bearing on what happens over here.

Which is why we need to talk about Europe. While the British political elites will be gathering in Brighton, Manchester and Birmingham, important issues about the future direction of the EU will be debated in Brussels and capitals around Europe. The Commission will be presenting proposals for a banking union members of the eurozone are engaging in a process of closer political integration, Germany is even contemplating an EU treaty convention. The Eurozone is being redesigned and re-engineered. The EU is in a state of change and renewal.

Britain should be right in there, taking part in the debate, having an input in the drawing of the EU’s new blueprint, influencing the decisions that will affect it so much. Instead, thanks to the Prime Minister’s self-defeating and completely ineffectual “veto” last year, Britain is left outside of the room. Sitting on the side-lines, exclaiming that you are not a member of the Eurozone (and “never will be”), while lecturing those that are, is not exactly an influencing strategy. Whether we like it or not, the Eurozone is here to stay. It is already a global currency, the second most held after the dollar, and a systemically important player in international monetary policy-making. It is only a matter of time before it resolves its governance issues and takes its place along the dollar and the renminbi in a tripolar currency world. We have the opportunity to influence what the Eurozone will look like in the medium and long term (just in the off chance we decide, or we are forced by circumstances to join one day). But instead we chose to stand by and have history pass us by.

Just like it was done back in the 1950s, when the decision was made not to participate in the creation of the EEC, only to join later a Community that did not have Britain’s genetic footprint.

Making the same mistake twice is not a trait of a wish person, the ancient Greeks used to say. Britain still has the opportunity to get actively and constructively involved in the reconstruction of the EU. Our European partners have left the door open. Which is why this year’s conference needs to talk about the EU, Britain’s membership of it and how Britain can help shape what the Union will look like in the next 20 years. Because Britain’s future wellbeing is intimately connected with the future wellbeing of the European Union, talking about the EU has never been more important.

The Independent View‘ is a slot on Lib Dem Voice which allows those from beyond the party to contribute to debates we believe are of interest to LDV’s readers. Please email [email protected] if you are interested in contributing.

* Petros Fassoulas is Chair of the European Movement

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42 Comments

  • Thomas Long 5th Sep '12 - 3:46pm

    The Euro and possibly the EU will be dead before 2020. It is a corrupt, bureaucratic, undemocratic mess at the moment and I honestly think it is too late for reform. The days of big government are gone and a party like ours that is supposed to favour localism shouldn’t be afraid of this.

  • Thank you for writing the obvious Petros: the Euro is here to stay and the area in which it is used is due to expand. It is a successful currency, there is no popular movement to abandon the currency; in fact, quite the reverse.

    The Euro is at the heart of the single market, enabling Euro users to compare prices across most of the EU. How is it that the UK has become mesmerized by apocalyptic hysteria which has manufactured an illusion that the Euro and the EU will somehow crumble and dissolve into …. well I cannot tell you what , because no one venting hot air of this sort ever gets that far.

    Sadly it is the UK that is marginalised and there is a much more serious risk that the UK will become yet more marginalised or even lose any voice whatsoever in EU decision making.

  • Giles Goodall 5th Sep '12 - 4:52pm

    I completely agree. Never has the phoney UK ‘debate’ on European issues been so far removed from the real debate across of the EU on the major issues currently and actually at stake: banking union, future of economic integration, completing the Single Market, a free trade agreement with Japan and the list goes on.

    Liberal Democrats have a responsibility to bring these issues to attention and discuss them openly, both as a party that is European to its core and as a party of government.

  • Liberal Eye 5th Sep '12 - 6:18pm

    “Whether we like it or not, the Eurozone is here to stay.”</em

    It is certainly true that the EU establishment desperately wishes what you say to be true as the costs of a collapse (or the eviction of some members) are just too horrible to contemplate. Unfortunately, it's design was flawed from the outset, driven by political expediency rather than sound finance and now the consequences must be faced. The more the eurocrats persist in flogging a dead horse, the more the eventual cost of the inevitable eventual failure will be.

    On the larger point – that we need to talk about Europe – I absolutely agree; it is clear that momentous changes are afoot and we need to be in the thick of the debate, not, as before, on the sidelines.

    But what troubles me here is that the Party heirarchy's instinct on Europe has never been to encourage debate. Rather it has supported more or less whatever has come out of Brussels while holding its nose about certain of the more objectionable bits – the CAP or fisheries policy for instance. It was left to a TV chef – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – to put together a campaign for fisheries reform while our MEP's were allegedly instructed not to talk about Europe in their re-election campaigns!

    The tragic thing is this; I firmly believe that there could be a liberal vision for Europe that would work for the peoples of Europe. It's not Britain vs Europe (as we have allowed UKIP to define the terms of debate) but liberals throughout Europe vs Conservatives throughout Europe. But what should the liberal vision be? That is the question we must ask and answer. And that means the Party establishment must take on board that endless, mindless support for the EU status quo with knobs on not the way to win over voters – as the voters have been telling them in the last few Euro-elections.

  • “Germany is even contemplating an EU treaty convention. The Eurozone is being redesigned and re-engineered. The EU is in a state of change and renewal.Britain should be right in there, taking part in the debate, having an input in the drawing of the EU’s new blueprint.”

    We certainly should be there -telling them to banish any idea whatsoever of centralising any more powers. There is a fundamentally anti-democratic mood among the Euro-maximalists at the moment and we should show no sign whatever of wavering in our opposition.

    @Martin
    “Thank you for writing the obvious Petros: the Euro is here to stay and the area in which it is used is due to expand. It is a successful currency”

    If you could only visit the area of Italy I know, the North East, and see how their economy has been laid low by the Euro, you would see how utterly false and hollow that statement is. My partner’s business was wrecked by the appreciation of the Euro relative to the Dollar and many of his friends’ businesses are on their knees.

    The Euro is an unmitigated disaster – an economic divergence machine – and we have only just begun to see the worst of it. And I say that as someone who is not xenophobic in any way – I speak three foreign European languages and I live a large part of my life in a Eurozone country. In fact, the Euro is eroding the foundations of Europe, with a growing tide of anti-Merkel and generally anti-German sentiment (in Italy at least).

  • While I appreciate the idealism of this posting, I have to say that in terms of actually helping the survival and recovery of the Liberal Democrats in polling terms, which should be at the top of our priority list, now is the time to keep absolutely silent about Europe and avoid giving the Tory Right yet more meat for them to tear at.

    We should be quietly, doggedly working out a more effective policy approach to Europe that doesn’t lead to us being labelled as Brussels’ lapdogs.

  • Little Jacky Paper 5th Sep '12 - 7:16pm

    Jedibeeftrix –

    ‘Do you accept that the EU has a cost as well as a value, and that while it is preferable to be inside for reasons of trade it may come at the cost of joining whatever federal entity emerges from the euro crisis?’

    I don’t think anyone credible ever claimed that there were no costs and anyone who believed that there weren’t was asking to be deceived.

    I’m not altogether sure I understand your point there. Surely we have had this ‘new EU’ in the shape of the EZ/non EZ countries for some time now? I am entirely relaxed about the notion of a two tier EU. Personally I would have been happy had the old single currency (ECU) been retained, it had been functioning perfectly well for the best part of three decades. But instead the others decided on the Euro. The UK stayed out. I susepect that in 5-10 years we will likely see some sort of federal Treasury and that the UK will not be a part of those arrangements, But to my mind that is nothing other than the logical extension of a two speed Europe.

    The UK will not be a part of those arrangements in all probability, but again that is a two speed Europe. I for one am quite relaxed about this. Muddling through? Maybe. But for the short to medium term my guess is that the die was cast 10 years ago really. This talk of ‘vision’ and ‘alternative EUs’ is really hot air.

    The long term however is less clear to me. In 30 years time, we likely will have real time translation technology (Google Translate is well on the way) and then the ‘ever closer union’ will become very real. But for the moment the two speed Europe is the only game in town really.

  • @Martin
    “How is it that the UK has become mesmerized by apocalyptic hysteria which has manufactured an illusion that the Euro and the EU will somehow crumble and dissolve into …. well I cannot tell you what , because no one venting hot air of this sort ever gets that far.”

    Perhaps it’s because of things like this:

    “We are potentially facing the demise of the Euro by Christmas and if that happens it will wreck our economy.

    “Contrary to what the Eurosceptics say, the issue now is not whether the UK remains in the EU but how we contain the Eurozone crisis.

    “If the Euro breaks up, I think there will be rampant protectionism. Even if you get a smaller Euro with just the AAA countries huddling together they will still go down the track of protectionism.

    “If the Euro breaks up then countries, including the UK, should work to save the EU, so that we continue to benefit from the Single Market and avoid a situation of every man for himself.
    “We need something concrete and substantial next week from leaders. Promises and packing up for Christmas holidays will not do.”

    Sharon Bowles MEP, Dec 2011

  • Little Jackie Paper 5th Sep '12 - 9:12pm

    jedibeeftrix – Thank you for your reply.

    To be totally honest, I am actually rather fatalistic about this whole, ‘soverign nation state’ thing. It’s not an EU thing specifically. Not that long ago an awful lot of people seemed to demand that that we outsource a decision on war to the UN. Why exactly should sovereign decisions on war be determined by a UN resolution? I don’t even remeber a referendum on UN membership. Or NATO for that matter. The idea that sovereignty can be some sort of absolute is something I just can’t see and in a world that has been globalised by technology, politics, markets and the like. I believe that all people just have to suck up that there are things that a sovereign state can’t manage or determine. I don’t necessarily like that or find it comfortable. But if I don’t believe that it is credible that we can ‘lead’ in Europe I also don’t believe that it is credible just to go it alone either, and it that means a messy de facto diminution of a classically defined sovereignty then that’s what it means. You can’t turn back the tide.

    I’d like a more modern (for want of a better word) EU, but I simply do not believe that if we just handed in our membership tomorrow that we would just have scope to ignore developments in the EU, even if that would be desirable. My guess is that if the ECU were revived it would be traded in London in a heartbeat.

    I imagine that you are right about how Germany preceives UK membership, at least in the short to medium term. But if the EZ17 wish something as policy for the EZ, then it is a corollary of being outside of the EZ17 that UK influence has limitations. It is difficult to know what else to say other than so be it – if the 17 wish to deepen integration, that’s what they want.

    Of course some supranational institutions change over time. The European Convention on Human Rights is something I find very difficult to defend in its current form where it is basically just one big pile-in, but its original incarnation was something I entirely would get behind. Just because I don’t believe it is for supranational judges to determine immigration cases, does not mean I think there is no place for a supranational judiciary. There is nothing inconsistent about such a stance to my mind.

    Don’t get me wrong here by the way. I respect your stance on this one. Just I believe that if you are going to chase a classically defined sovereignty in a non-classic world then you will simply chase a phantom. Good luck to you.

  • Richard Dean 6th Sep '12 - 12:42am

    Neither Europe nor the Euro are going to be dead anytime soon. Yes, we certainly need to be there, in the Eurozone, as soon as we can be – though not before the present debts have been sorted out.

  • “Do you accept that the EU has a cost as well as a value..?”

    No, I don’t accept it – I insist on it!

    I inherently distrust anything described as costless, because if you don’t pay up front then you’ll pay more down the line – other people’s definition of free often doesn’t correspond with my own!

    The point about the liberal approach is that we support fair exchange for the benefit of all.

    The EU has developed in response to the needs of globalising society, and it is only through international bodies that we can exert greater democratic influence. The problems are a direct indication that Europe is not democratic enough, and where more democracy is needed.

    Look at the achievements of the EU – securing lasting peace between members, creating common standards on law, trade, justice, all guaranteeing opportunities and freedoms for ordinary people, which almost every nation could only dream of until only recently.

    Not even the most hardline critic could argue these would have happened without integration, because by definition it is integration!

    But integration requires participation, and those critics who advocate a less active role are sabotaging our chances of further success.

    It is to the credit of our democracy that we listen to the critics and take on board their messages about those areas which should be better – if fact, to do so and respond effectively is the perfect demonstration of how European integration actually works.

    But I’m not happy with the state of Europe, and I think there are many major reforms needed to bring the EU up to scratch – no more a 7-year itch, it’s persistent and pressing. Europe is one of the big issues, and it is the area where we – as LibDems – are best capable of showing leadership.

    First up, reforming the EU Commission.

  • @RC “While I appreciate the idealism of this posting, I have to say that in terms of actually helping the survival and recovery of the Liberal Democrats in polling terms, which should be at the top of our priority list, now is the time to keep absolutely silent about Europe and avoid giving the Tory Right yet more meat for them to tear at.”

    The electorate will only vote for the LibDems if they perceive differences in policies from the Conservatives & Labour. Being in coalition, and making the compromises that go with it, means the policy distinctions between the two coalition parties get blurred in the public mind. The Tory right – effectively another party within the larger conservative party – has no problem trying to out-UKIP UKIP. Staying silent in the face of that will create a belief in the public mind that the LibDems are at best a bunch of old style “wet” Conservatives, which leads to the question “why vote LibDem when they are basically the Conservative party anyway?”

    The only way to counteract that is to highlight policy differences between the two parties and – with the defeat of the AV referendum – the EU is a core difference between the two parties.

    EU financial regulation is going to happen as a result of the financial crisis. The Eurozone majority will drive it and the UK will almost certainly be sidelined as a result of the isolationist attitudes previously adopted by successive governments here.

    Is it in the interest of either the UK or “the City” that the UK should be sidelined during such regulation? Clearly No, yet where are the LibDem politicians making the case for POSITIVE engagement rather than acquiescing in their silence with the isolationist agenda?

  • Jedi,
    if there’s a cost to enaging with European integration, it’s incumbent on you to reciprocate equally and explain whether there’s also a cost to disengaging.

    …then we can work out how these balance against each other to make more widely-informed decisions.

  • it’ll only implode if you wish it, by your inaction to resolve the issues.

  • Liberal Eye 6th Sep '12 - 6:03pm

    @ Jedibeeftrix

    I think you misconstrued my earlier comment because when I talked of ‘conservatives’ I meant it – somewhat obtusely – as a shorthand for all non-liberal strands of political thought. All societies have their liberals and we would, if we tried to carve out a liberal stance, surely find that there are liberals (not necessarily welll identified by party affiliation) in all the other EU countries who would be only too happy to make common cause for a well thought out approach to reform of the EU. Instead what we get offered is mostly a ‘Britain vs the rest’ take on it which leads to us being suckered into unreserved support for the existing EU, warts and all. Since the warts are particularly large and hairy this is a plan that is bound to loose – as recent Euro-eections prove.

    Incidentally what do you understand by ‘federal/federalism’? There are at least two very different interpretations. One I support, the other is a total anathema.

    @ RC

    “… now is the time to keep absolutely silent about Europe and avoid giving the Tory Right yet more meat for them to tear at.”

    Really? Why not promote a liberal policy towards the EU. The one we have now is a shocker. Never mind the Tory right – liberals should hate it too for its fundamental lack of democracy, bullying of smaller nations, centralisation, corruption etc.

  • Liberal Eye 7th Sep '12 - 12:37am

    Yes. I would express it more simply by saying that the key issue is whether power is held at the centre and devolved down when expedient or held by the states/provinces and pooled when necessary for mutual advantage. I used to understand the second as being ‘federal’ but common usage now normally means the first, particularly in the case of Europe.

    In theory (although sometimes violated in practice) the USA follows the second option as spelled out in the 10th ammendment. The EU in contrast works like a black hole sucking in anything incautious enough to venture within its event horizon yet this is what LDs officially support. When this position proves an electoral liability, the party adopts an ostrich stance and refuses to see or discuss the difficulty.

    The solution seems obvious. We should make the case for a minimalist EU that does those things – and only those things – as narrowly defined as necessary where all the members agree to pool their sovereignty for mutual advantage. And, to make the point clear any powers delegated to the EU should be recallable if themember states so wish thereby ending the ‘ever greater union’ nonsense.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Sep '12 - 9:24am

    I absolutely agree that we should be much more vocal on the EU, taking an EU-reformist stance, openly defying the media lie that it’s only possible to be unreservedly in favour of everything the EU does, or absolutely against it. Being silent on it will only allow others, like UKIP and the Tory right, to speak on our behalf about our purported views on the EU. Yes we have to take time to think about our position, but we can’t lock ourselves in a cupboard and pretend people aren’t discussing it now. In European Parliamentary elections, we need to campaign, almost to the exclusion of everything else, on the records of our MEPs and contrasting them with other party groups. It would help if our MEPs were sometimes more confrontational in their rhetoric. The claim that the EU is undemocratic is somewhat old-hat: the European Parliament has more power in relation to its corresponding executive than most national legislatures.

    And we need to separate clearly three things: policy on UK engagement with the EU (a domestic issue, not much to do with MEPs, and we should state this explicitly in European Parliamentary election campaigns), policy about the EU (formulated at EU level) and EU policy on non-constitutional issues (such as CAP, international trade, civil liberties; again formulated at EU level). Especially on the latter, our party needs to be very clear about what we support and what we seek to reform.

  • @jedibeeftrix
    “I have no problem with the principle of differentiation, but i rather think you have lost the point that lib-dem policy must prove popular for it make the party electable.”

    The Lib-Dems will not be electable if their policies are indistinguishable from the other larger parties. “Our candidates are nicer than theirs” is not a strategy that any saner voter will respect much less vote for.

    “Again – what is the cost of being on the inside track to ensure that the city is not sidelined in financial legislation? How much further integration will be required? How will you win the ensuing referendum Mr 4th party in British politics (hint: UKIP)?”

    The former two points are matters for inter-governmental negotiation. Under current EU structures, a large amount of financial legislation (probably an overwhelming majority of possible legislation) can be introduced – obstructionism is not going to prevent it.

    Should a referendum be necessary, it is up to both sides to make their case and the electorate to decide. Yes, that could mean the electorate makes a decision which historians will regard as the “wrong” decision but that is the electorate’s perogative – they get to live with the consequences be they positive or negative.

    Deciding to sideline the UK because the electorate might – or might not – make such a decision in a referendum is a questionable, if not downright cowardly, strategy.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Sep '12 - 3:45pm

    @jedibeeftrix: Don’t be so patrionising. The European Parliament DOES discuss the “big ticket items”, not just fizzy drinks or whatever, so your comment on that is irrelevant.

  • Jedi,
    if the issue is sovereignty, you have to ask who do you want to hold it, how and what for.

    If you want democratic accountability, then pooling sovereignty provides the greatest increase overall.

    If you don’t play the game, complaining that the rules don’t suit you turns you into a figure of fun.

  • @Oranjepan

    “If you want democratic accountability, then pooling sovereignty provides the greatest increase overall.”

    I think I’m with Jedi and his request for an explanation, especially as your earlier comments contradict what you’re saying here (e.g “The problems are a direct indication that Europe is not democratic enough, and where more democracy is needed.”), although that isn’t the only contradictions that I see, perhaps also:

    “But integration requires participation, and those critics who advocate a less active role are sabotaging our chances of further success.
    It is to the credit of our democracy that we listen to the critics and take on board their messages about those areas which should be better”

    If you believe that a particular course is sabotage then you will not take on board the comments – except to pay lip service whilst carrying on with the course you have set yourself, in fact the use of the word sabotage shows some intolerance of the views of others.

    “Not even the most hardline critic could argue these would have happened without integration, because by definition it is integration!”

    But surely the things you listed have been happening since the beginning of time and it hasn’t always required integration? As an example, many nations agree to be bound by the rules of the WTO, but we don’t (as yet) have a world government (as we would understand the meaning) and therefore there is no integration.

    You talk about the lack of democracy in the EU and how work must be done to correct this, but do you have a realistic time scale for this? I only ask as the current progress seems awfully slow, whilst the EU (the Euro area) seems to be planning to remove yet more democratic oversight, it would seem that the new ESM is going to sit way above the law and can not be touched – at both the organisational and individual level. So if progress has been slow so far, how long with it take to make the ESM accountable to the people (via the law)?

    I have often heard the LDP being referred to as a “EU or bust” party, then many people have denied this (at least they have on LDV), but I’ve never seen anyone say “If x happens, the we should leave the EU”, so the question I would have for you is – what is your line in the sand?

  • The context for this discussion is that the world is an ever-shrinking place, we live in exciting, but dangerous times. A little cough here and a major storm happens somewhere else. Now people can (and do) argue that we are all better off in our own compartments, and “determining our own future”. A message to those people – we do not live in a little bubble of our own. Another bit of context – our party has argued strongly that representative democracy is the best means for making decisions affecting us all. When you are talking about major issues which do need international / supranational decision, surely it makes sense to have a democratic body with a supranational mandate.

    jbt’s argument about “no common demos”, or rephrased as “no common polity” I have heard many times. I don’t accept it for one moment – what is a problem is the way the right wing press (and some others ) use the EU as a whipping boy. Looking wider, the case for a common demos is more difficult to make, but the EU, and possibly the African Union, are big regional attempts to work towards being able to express and use a common democratic mandate. I seem to remember that it was arguments from the UK which largely prevented the European Parliament from being elected by the people. Shame on you, UK! I think for those who object to the EU on the grounds of democratic deficit, they should look carefully at the previous actions of UK governments before criticising. The current structure and distribution of power represents a compromise. Any demos, jbt, at whatever level, represents some compromises.

    It may well be that there are certain decisions appropriate to national or local governments which currently are taken at EU level, but it is equally true that there are important international decisions taken at lower levels, which all should have an input into.

    The above is meant to serve as context, but unless we intend to retreat into smaller compartments (pulling up the duvet and hiding from the nasty outside world) we had better cooperate with the effective development of supranational democracy. The alternatives look infinitely worse, in our dangerous shared world.

  • jbt I am, of course, accepting of “variable geometry”, and the principle of subsidiary, devolvement of function to lowest practicable level, etc. But there comes a time when those at a more supranational level need to make decisions which favour the majority / the vulnerable etc.

  • @jedibeeftrix
    “I’m presuming this is because i don’t count as a lib-dem?”

    I sort of assumed (assumptions = dangerous, I know :- ) ) that you’re probably more like me, in the sense of trying to work out what the LDP is all about, rather than actually being one. If I’m wrong on that I apologise.

    @Tim13
    “The context for this discussion is that the world is an ever-shrinking place, we live in exciting, but dangerous times.”

    But surely this has been the case for a very long time? Why do you feel it has changed so much that we now need a European government to address the issues?

    “Now people can (and do) argue that we are all better off in our own compartments, and “determining our own future”. A message to those people – we do not live in a little bubble of our own.”

    But some of those people are not advocatimg living in a bubble, in fact some feel that the EU has become such a compartment (or bubble if you prefer). These people feel that we are ignoring the wider world, that in fact we have retreated from the world in our bid to be good Europeans.

    “Looking wider, the case for a common demos is more difficult to make, but the EU, and possibly the African Union, are big regional attempts to work towards being able to express and use a common democratic mandate.”

    Probably due to the fact that I’m more evolution than revolution in my outlook, I think that over time such an occurence (common demos) would have happened and it would have been accelerated by sticking to the free market idea. But the political classes often seem to be driven by ego and the need for legacy, so they go down the revolution front and try to short circuit human nature. I’m actually with Jedi when he says:

    “In short, it is now destroying that which it laboured to create, and I would argue this is happening because too little respect has been given to the differences in aims and expectations between the peoples of europe and thus the limits of political integration.”

    What is interesting is that the Lib Dems often portray the belief that it is only the UK population that has doubts, but this is obviously not true. There is an interesting interview on Spiegel online with Helmut Schmidt and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/spiegel-interview-with-helmut-schmidt-and-valery-giscard-d-estaing-a-855127.html), if you have time it is worth a read as it is very interesting. I won’t quote at length from it as it would fill pages, but I will pick up just one point of interest as it goes to the core of the belief that we can only survive on the inside:

    “SPIEGEL: Who would form the United States of Europe, if it came to that at some point in the future? The 17 members of the Euro Group or the 27 members of the EU?

    Giscard: Definitely the 17! Anyone who wants to join this group must be determined to integrate. But we are not exerting any pressure whatsoever. If the British, the Danes and the Swedes don’t want to belong, then that is simply how it is. This is not a source of conflict. On the contrary, the EU could fairly easily expand — for instance by accepting Turkey or Ukraine — as long as its core, the euro zone, remains unaffected. We could form the United States of Europe, but only within the close-knit core, not the larger union. Canada and Mexico are also not about to become part of the United States of America”

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