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UK in / out referendum


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Yes, I would say that the majority of the Germans is positive about the EU, but I think, too, that the passion of the 50s/60s of the last century is gone. I don‘t believe that „the Germans“ think, that the British are trying to „divide and conquer...“ - I think the Germans are more astonished about why many British think so negative about the EU and can‘t understand it.

The EU is an institution, which organises on one hand the common market of the EU-members on the other hand its combines the powers of the single EU-members in international global negotiations, when the single EU-members agreed on that in the EU-treaties.

I should add that the Germans don‘t agree on everything what the EU does, but I think that are such „minor“ things like: „why in h‘ll decided „Brussels“ about the size of an apple or the bend of a banana“?

But I think we should think about which issues should be decided in the EU institutions and which in the single states. The United Kingdom as well as Germany have the same rights and duties in the EU - when a state wants to change something in the EU it must find other countries, which want to change that, too. I am glad of the French-German cooperation, but I have to emphasise that I wish that there is such good cooperation between Germany and the UK or Sweden or Poland or Italy or Spain or the Netherlands too.

Well, I can‘t see that „Berlin“ orders and the EU resp. the members of the EU has/have to follow - I suppose you mean the situation in the Eurozone... I believe that a common currency works only, when the member of the Eurozone have comparable tax policies, financial policies etc. etc. I myself think that Germany has a responsiblity as the largest economy of the Eurozone, but I think that the majority of the Germans do not want either the Euro nor to pay for the debts of the others.

That sounds that you believe that all Europeans (except the British, Danish, Finnish and Swedish) love to live without their own traditions in a dictatorship. For me it is important that the European Union is democratic, diverse and united at the same time. I do not want to say that the EU is perfectly, but I think it is worth to work on it.

Thanks for your thoughtful reply CAF, its much appreciated.

I think there is much mis-information via the tabloid press here about the EU...I recognise that and so do many Brits. The best thing that can come out of any referendum is a sensible debate where hopefully people will learn to appreciate some of the more positive aspects of the EU.

I think there is still a fundamental issue about whether the UK wants to be in the type of EU that is being planned. I honestly think we're marginalised and that is partly our own fault; however, I think that some of the backroom dealing between countries that goes on and "stitch ups" as they get called here sicken many Brits, even EU supporters like me. I think the EU is able to marginalise a small country, like Greece or the Hungary without too many consequences... but it can't ignore a country the size of the UK because of the scale of trading relationships that are at stake. There needs to be a better way of dealing with different opinions in the EU because you simply can't drag 63 million people in a direction they don't want to go. The consequences of a UK departure are potentially dire for the UK, but when you look at other countires like Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, not to mention france and Germany who have huge stakes in the UK economy, then there needs to be some room for accomodating a different approach towards the EU or everyone stands to lose a lot.

As for democracy, I think it is a cherished thing in all EU countries, but I think our history of protecting individual rights from the state is very differnt from other EU countries. It comes down to our parliamentary system and our use of common law to define our rights as individuals. The rest of Europe, apart from Ireland, uses civil law. This goes to the heart of how we perceive our democratic tradition. I know Ireland is concerned that if the UK left the EU it would be the only country left with a similar legal and parliamentary system... and they're worried that it would lead to them being overwhelmed by European laws which defer to a civil law system. Frankly we believe our way is better and has protected our rights over the last 1000 years far better than other systems we see in Europe. I know that sounds arrogant... and it is.

As for federalism, even with Scotland and the other devolved home nations' parliaments, there is no traditon of federalism in the UK... we just don't "get it". This is something we need to learn more about... hopefully through the referendum debate... if it ever happens. I suspect that the Conservatives will be booted out at the next election and we'll have a weak Labour Government in its place. However, I don't think this issue will go away... I think there would be huge pressure on the next Government to hold the referendum because its what the prevailing mood of the country is demanding.

As for germany... there is no doubt it is holding the trump cards at the moment. Your economy is relatively strong, you hold the purse strings and of course you are able to bring greater influence to bear because of it... and Merkel is doing just that. I have no particular problem with that because this power is being used responsibly and relatively sensitively. However, while Germany is strong economically, the reluctance you show in defence matters means that your power is very limited in certain respects. Its France and the UK who are members of the security council and who have the ability to defend Europe militarily. The economic debate aside, the power balance in Europe between the big 3 should not be allowed to get too unbalanced. The debate about the future of the EU needs to be seen in that wider context.

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