Rest in Pieces: Brexit’s Aftermath

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‘Let’s Get Brexit Done!’ Boris Johnson’s slogan for his latest campaigning became reality with the end of January. Indeed, it is done, at least when one understands Brexit as nothing else but the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. Because this is essentially what happened. Most urging questions, including the border issue between EU member state Ireland and UK member Northern Ireland, trade relations, the status of EU citizens living in Great Britain, and the like, remain unresolved regarding the long term. Hence, there is still plenty of political work to be done, both in Brussels and London.

It is therefore fallacious to jump to overly optimistic conclusions which appear to be widespread in both media and politics. While some celebrate the reincarnation of self-determination, others welcome getting rid of an awkward negotiating partner. Still others are just happy not to be bothered any more by the never-ending story of extending withdrawal talks again and again.

Yet, sorry to say, all these perceptions fall short. This is best shown by the perhaps most prevalent myth surrounding Brexit: That the EU now finally is a real union again. Proponents of this thesis have a fair point when arguing that the entire storyline of Brexit so far comes closer to a horror movie than a love flick. The back and forth of the negotiations between London and Brussels just as lockdowns and dead ends in British politics indeed sent a strong signal to the 27 remaining EU members. Leaving the often-disliked union in those days is as unattempting as never before. As David ‘Oops-a-Daisy-I-accidently-made-my-country-leave-the-EU’ Cameron and Theresa ‘Dancing-Queen-aka-Brexit-means-Brexit’ May showed strikingly: Such an agenda easily turns into a political suicide mission.

What tends to be forgotten, however, is the fact that the voter generally is oblivious. In other words: Having a strong community spirit now does not equal a guarantee for standing strong forever and ever. Besides, whether the sense of community actually is as alive and kicking as assumed should be questioned. The so-called ‘Friends of Cohesion’ recently convened in Portugal to agree on their post-Brexit strategy. Needless to say, this circle of ‘friends’ does not incorporate all 27 EU states. With numerous more or less formal sub groupings within the EU, from the Eurogroup to PESCO to Visegrád, when the chips are down, every member state will look for the alliance that is most promising to its very national advantage.

With the pressing schedule to get Brexit really done until the end of the year – let us leave aside the quite likely event of a prolongation for a second – the EU would be wise to avoid falling into pieces even more (ironically, the decision makers at the River Thames faces the same risk: think Scotland). Instead, Brussels would be better off staying strong together, overcoming dissents quickly, and, ultimately, speaking with one voice internationally.

Else, the EU may rest in pieces.

Organ Donation Postponed: A Bright Outlook for NATO and EU (?)

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“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO“, French president Emmanuel Macron said in an interview which thereafter spread like wildfire. A provoking statement, though Monsieur le Président obviously aimed at nothing but triggering his fellow state leaders. Now, after this emergency call with which NATO – as a proxy of most international organizations in those days – was hospitalized, the international community was curios what would be next up. Would the brain-dead patient donate his organs?

Admittedly, the organs of a 70-year-old might be hard to sell. But to most observer’s surprise, none of the brothers in unpredictability, Erdoğan, Johnson, Trump, and the like, blew up or hacked up the anniversary summit in London. There have been some minor issues, with Trudeau, Rutte, Johnson, and Macron accidently mocking the real Donald on camera. Yet, one of the negotiators rightly puts it when stating that “we were expecting worse”.

Whether North Macedonia, as stated in the final declaration, is soon to be the newest ally  has to be questioned to the same extent as the statement that NATO denotes “the strongest and most successful alliance in history”. Same holds for the claim that the alliance is “making good progress”.

But this is exactly where to draw on. In those days it is maybe not about making progress, setting new agendas, and speaking highly of multilateralism and one another. Perhaps it is a state leader like Boris Johnson realizing that indeed there is far more that unites the allies than what divides them. Perhaps it is to let Trump claim that no president would have ever achieved so much in so little time when at the same time he is willing to sign the final declaration and even mentions tremendous things being achieved. Perhaps it is seeing the state leaders mocking each other like at the play ground as long as they do not transfer the childish behavior to actual policy making.

If this is what Macron wanted to achieve, reinforcing awareness within the alliance of its importance, then he succeeded. If, on the contrary, he really aimed at questioning the organization or at least radically reforming it, then there is still a long way to go. And there is reason to doubt the success of this objective.

Yet, also taking into consideration the handover of the European Commission’s presidency Juncker to Ursula von der Leyen, it shows that the two most important international organizations for Europe, seemingly, are released from intensive care. vdL, as the new president is often referred to, proposed and outlined a very ambitious agenda for the upcoming five years.

She now has to meet the high hopes she awoke, of course. But, just as NATO, EU seems to be back on its feet. Trust in the long-lasting peace project is as high as it has not been in years. The first actions taken by vdL furthermore seem promising.

So, the two sick men of Europe, as one might still have labelled them a month ago, appear to recover now that it comes to the end of the year. It has to be proven in reality whether or not this is enough for a bright outlook. Notwithstanding the patient’s age, there remain to be plenty of prospects panting for the patient’s organs. Hence: Full recovery welcome.

HAS ANYONE TOLD YOU THAT BREXIT IS ABOUT DISCRIMINATION?

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Brexit is definitely one of the most popular topics at the moment, at the international level. Deal or no-deal, what that means for the EU and for the UK, what can immigrants expect, economy, will the boundaries be closed… It seems obvious, but it is surprisingly not enough and communicated straightforwardly, however Brexit is about discrimination.

Source: UKIP

Brexit campaign has been based on politics of prejudice and discrimination. Eastern-Europhobia has spread across the country before the referendum. Campaign posters trying to raise the feelings of threat among the UK citizens, ‘threat’, that is, threat by Eastern Europeans coming and stealing their NHS money by playing social security victims, threats by the Turks that will rush to the UK when they join the EU and whelm the Holy Kingdom, these posters have achieved their goal. Thirty seven percent of the UK voting population managed to decide about destiny of 66 million people. But that’s democracy.

Thirty seven percent of the voting body is xenophobic? The manipulation with their national identity was successful. They voted against immigration from countries that are even not in the EU. It is not even certain that they will become a part of the EU any time soon. Even if they do, the people that voted for leaving the EU are people who discriminate against other national groups. I can’t even emphasize this process enough.

Source: BBC

Since the beginning of the referendum campaign, the anxiety among migrants and discrimination against them has risen. Many people have been denied visas, but the outburst was the most visible among academics. Researchers from other countries were even denied visas for visiting conferences. Scholars had to leave their already existing positions because they were ordered to. Scholars’ babies were denied visas, hence forcing themselves to leave. Academics have been threatened with deportation to countries they have never visited. Who knows how many more have been denied or deported, but are not so loud to yell about their situation. No-deal Brexit has already started.

The independence of the UK is based on discrimination. It is not a pity then to be denied their visa or residency. Who would want to live in such a society anyway?

Youth participation in democracies: An argument for e-voting

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Ramiro MurguiaPassionate youth activist and entrepreneur, Ramiro is the founder of the World Youth Academy and he is serving as its Director. Ramiro devotes its times to empower the world youth by a modern, actual and meaningful education.