The end of the EU as we know it
Although the decision made by the British took everyone by surprise, we must avoid painting disaster scenarios regarding the future of the EU. The British made a democratic choice and this needs to be respected.
The way out of the EU needs to be defined within the next two years. These will be years of uncertainty as Brussels and London need to agree on the future of their mutual relations. There are different possible options here. The ultimate choice will also have an impact of Poles living in the UK. Hopefully, British rational thinking and pragmatism will prevail over the ocean of demagogy which preceded the referendum.
How does one perceive Brexit from the Brussels point of view? It was more than a yellow card. It was a red one. It was a vote of no confidence for the current European elite – Jean Claude Juncker, Martin Schulz and Donald Tusk at the forefront. No doubt, they should bear as much responsibility for what has happened as David Cameron. I am aware that they had little influence over anti-European revolt in the UK but they will go down in history as its symbol. A shrinking European Union needs new, charismatic leaders in order to recover and become dynamic again.
Brexit is also a sign of British helplessness in reforming the EU. Reforms proposed by David Cameron are disappearing from the European agenda. But it is important that someone else will undertake the mission to implement them. No doubt, this is a job for Warsaw.
Brexit is, on one hand, a reinforcement for Eurosceptic tendencies across the EU and dangerous populist sentiment. But on the other hand, it is a call for changes within the EU structures. At this point, there are various models. If Paris manages to convince Angela Merkel to the idea of the “core” EU nations, Poland should definitely make efforts to become part of this core, also by adopting the euro as a currency, if necessary.
We can’t afford to be marginalized within the EU. Poland is not ready to survive on the outside, on Europe’s periphery. Therefore, this would mean closer integration, the euro and an attempt to establish equal relations with Paris and Berlin.
There is also another way, which is probably better from the Polish point of view. It is to try to implement the Cameron’s EU reform agenda. First, to propose reforms that would liberate EU member states from an obsessive regulation policy and would destroy the myth of the nation state as a burden for the Union. Second, to reorientate the EU towards better guarantees for the free market and common security mechanisms.
I see this as a mission for Warsaw. However, it is an extremely difficult task which will require certain skills and professionalism as well as basic co-operation across Poland’s entire political elite. In the name of national interest, which is very clear these days. Will we be able to deliver this?