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1st February 2013

Open letter to the British public: why don’t you want to be European?

Danish student Victoria Sorensen wonders why Brits don’t want to be a part of Europe

Deciding to go to university in Britain and leaving home – Denmark, was one of the major decisions in my life. And I can honestly say that I have no regrets about it what so ever, I love Britain. However, sometimes I get the feeling that the love between the majority of the EU member states and the United Kingdom isn’t as mutual as my love for scones and clotted cream.

Sometimes I feel that my fellow students only love me for my Nordic blonde hair.  This feeling I had all the more strongly following last Wednesday, when the Prime Minister David Cameron announced his plans for a referendum on EU membership. And it seems that the population as a whole want to distance themselves from Europe, statistics show that only 40% of the British population actually wanted to be a part of the Union.  As well as this, I have come across a mystery. It seems that whenever I am in a deep intellectual discussion about culture or integration with one of my fellow students (British, not to forget), they keep referring to `Europeans’ in the 3rd person. A European is I, and everyone else in the EU, but yourself. So, why do you not want to be European?

I came up with three possible reasons. Firstly, the pride and stubbornness of an old Empire. As a result of this arrogance, a constant strive towards maintaining the global power image Britain enjoyed up until the early 1900’s. Secondly,  the European financial crisis. It’s caused problems throughout all European economies, ultimately sending most member countries in a state of recession – even those who opted out of the Euro. And finally, the geographical divide. Is it the water? Is it really the water? Seriously?

As David Cameron may have been forced by his own Tory backers to take on a certain attitude towards the EU,  his speech last Wednesday may well have been nothing more than a strategic move. Or it may have been  some kind of attempt to try to improve British standing in any future EU negotiations, showing that you are willing to leave if need be. However, if we consider the scenario of Britain outside of the EU, we can see the foolishness of David Cameron’s position. Britain would no longer favour financial regulation, the elimination of tax barriers, and free movement of employment and education. All of this would ultimately affect the national economy, making it difficult for Britain to compete with faster growing economies like China and Brazil.  Furthermore, it will lose its strong opposition against the US in preserving interests across the Atlantic. The US would be in a difficult position, trying to juggle a relationship between Britain and the EU. All this leaves us with the question; is Britain really capable of going on by itself? I dare say no.

Britain needs to get over its Europhobia. The incentives of being a member country of the EU have undeniably diminished over the past few years, but the EU is more than just financial and strategic perks. It is in fact largely a project of peace and securing order in our region of the world. For that project to succeed, we have got to cooperate. Britain is dependent on the EU, and the EU needs Britain. The United Kingdom freed my country and most of Europe from totalitarianism in 1945. Now you want to free yourself from the project, which has been the very armour against new wars and tyranny in Europe. Does Britain really want to be the country to throw the project for peace down the drain? I don’t get it; I love you, why don’t you love me?



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