EU Progress Report: The United Kingdom and EU Membership


Gherardo Astaldi Journal Contributor

The United Kingdom’s euro-skeptic attitude towards ever increasing turmoil in the European Union’s (EU) financial market has come to a turning point.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s Tory Party believes Bruxelles to be “bossy, wasteful, and out of touch.” Few Members of Parliament think the EU’s format and integration mechanisms will benefit the United Kingdom. The nation’s decision to depart from the trading block could ultimately weaken its relations with the United States and Europe, decrease exports, and lead to higher inflation.

Firstly, exiting the free market area would result in a reduced flow of goods and services. This would dampen the economy and send England back into recession. Secondly, if imported goods were to become more costly due to EU tariffs or quotas, the pound would depreciate. Thirdly, analysts say the UK ran a trade deficit last year with 159 billion pounds exported against 202 billion pounds imported. Thus, if the EU imposed tariffs, this would further endanger the UK’s deficit.

Questions arise when debating about immigration. Some debate that decreasing, if not banning immigration, would help the country improve the quality of life and its infrastructure, while others suggest that immigrants contribute to the nation’s economic growth and annual gross domestic product (GDP.)

The United Kingdom has always played an outcast role in the European Union. Starting from when it decided not to adopt the euro in favor of the sterling. In David Cameron’s speech on Wednesday, Cameron stated that if reelected, he would offer the British a referendum vote of “in or out [of the EU].”

Feelings of cohesion between the United Kingdom and the European Union have plummeted in the last couple of weeks and seem to have reached a definite end. The New York Times reported that a phone call delivered to Mr. Cameron said that America relies on “a strong England that makes critical contributions to peace, prosperity and security in Europe and around the world.”

European leaders were not pleased with Cameron’s words to “negotiate” the UK’s stay in the EU. “The EU does not need unwilling Europeans,” said Mario Monti, Italy’s prime minister and former European Commissioner. David Cameron “is playing a very dangerous game by feeding euro skepticism,” said Spanish Foreign Minister Garcia-Margallo. This general feeling of skepticism by European leaders towards England’s role is of great concern for the trading block’s future.

Additionally, European leaders also believe that the British will not be able to dictate their terms for remaining apart of the EU with a referendum. The decision needs to be taken within the trading block “together,” not separately.  This will also cause turmoil with the United States as many U.S. officials have stated that they want the UK to be a “leading” member of the free market area.

“This is not about turning our backs on Europe, it’s about how we make the case for a more competitive, open, and flexible Europe” said the UK’s prime minister during the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last Wednesday.

Nationalism and populism are not ideas supported by members who envision a more unified Europe. The United Kingdom’s role in the EU is pivotal, as it would represent a failure if the nation were to exit. After the UK’s departure it would become an option to exit and the envisioning dream of a united Europe would be more difficult to pursue and inspire.