Financial Times/Bruegel European Forum: Where now for the UK and the EU after the vote for Brexit?
Three months after the results of the UK referendum there is still a lot of uncertainty about the future. The Financial Times and Bruegel bring together a panel to discuss the most crucial questions.
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Lionel Barber expressed the view that the Brexit vote was not a vote against globalization in general although direction and the rhetoric in UK politics have changed dramatically against it. James Blitz argued that Brexit supporters underestimate the extent of reduction in trade a hard Brexit would entail and overestimate the degree and speed with which trade deals with third countries can compensate for it. Sylvie Goulard emphasized that any future arrangement with the UK would have to fully respect each of the four freedoms of the EU. She added that the discussion is not specific to Britain, but pertains to a more general debate about the desirable degree of openness in society. She finally wondered whether domestic policy failures and the introduction of the euro contributed to the course of events. Guntram Wolff took the view that the future deal should strike the balance between preserving favourable outcomes for the citizens and respecting each side’s political principles. He agreed on the importance of EU-UK trade for both parties, and thus spoke in favour of maintaining the deep integration of goods and services markets, while reaching a compromise on free movement of workers with the UK, outside of the EU.
In his second intervention, Lionel Barber drew the context for Theresa May’s recent speech at the Conservative Party Conference. He argued that she intended to address Brexit voters’ anxieties and pointed at her tenure as Home Secretary makes her sensitive on security and immigration. Barber concluded that, while whether globalization has peaked in Britain is an open question, certain aspects of it will not be complete. James Blitz agreed that domestic policy shortcomings contributed to the referendum result, adding that May’s post-referendum response has been to advocate a strong state to address them. The problem he sees is an intrinsic contradiction between that domestic policy vision and the strategy currently pursued, which is limiting the economic resources a strong state would require. Sylvie Goulard also supported the need for a balanced solution but insisted that supranational jurisdiction over the single market should remain a precondition for participation. Guntram Wolff, in turn, made two final points; firstly, he raised the prospect of policy dumping should the UK becomes estranged from the EU. Secondly, he argued that the depreciation of the pound should be seem as a correction, whereby the financial sector is shrinking, driving down the value of the currency and, thus, making British industry more competitive.
Event notes by Konstantinos Efstathiou
AUDIO & VIDEO RECORDINGS
Read Bruegel’s work on Brexit.
Read the Financial Times’ coverage of Brexit.
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Chair: Maria Demertzis, Deputy Director
Editor, Financial Times
Whitehall Editor, Financial Times
Member of the European Parliament
Guntram B. Wolff
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