Will this year prove to be a decisive year for EU/UK Relations or will it add further uncertainty?

 

 

The past 4 years have been dominated by uncertainty and loaded with events that put the UK Coalition Government under strain and challenge related to the homogeneity of their policies and tested the strength of their union. The relationship with the EU is one of these areas in which there were many differences in policies between the two parties. It is hard to reconcile that a pro-EU party, like the Liberal Democrats, is part of the same Government that is threatening the EU with an exit referendum in 2017.

Prime Minister Cameron has called for a review of how EU membership affects the UK. While this exercise is seen by many as a response to the rising voices of euro-skeptics within the conservative party as well as the increasing popularity of the UK Independent Party (UKIP), the Prime Minister's narrative about the European Union did propose some legitimate reforms for the EU system.

For example, the call for more democratic accountability in EU institutions is a legitimate request, given the fact that current EU commissioners who manage multi-billion budgets are non-elected officials. However, this perspective contains a major contradiction in that it simultaneously insisting that the national Parliament take on a bigger role whilst saying that it didn't see the Parliament being able to handle the "in or out" question and would instead let a referendum decide the question.

Even if the whole EU saga can be considered as part of the management of party politics within the Conservative party, it is very risky as well as unlikely that the UK would receive sufficient support for negotiation of a new EU treaty. The leader of the Labour party has insisted as well that the EU need to be reformed but that in a vague sense. 

This confirms that this year's elections is important for the future of UK relationship with the EU. Whatever the direction this takes, the EU is undoubtedly crucial for the UK's economy. 2013 saw over 48.5% of UK exports going to the EU and 52% of its imports coming from the EU. It is worth noting that this was significantly higher only 10 years ago, when the numbers were 62% and 59%, respectively.

The EU bureaucrats and diplomats insist that the British membership of the EU has played a significant role in the development of the EU institutions in the last 4 decades and it will be major loss if the UK leaves the EU. This is certainly creating an environment of uncertainly regarding the Scenarios of the UK-EU relations in the coming years . It also raises the questions of the presence of Post-EU plans amongst UK Foreign Policy stakeholders


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