Guest editorial by Volker Wieland: "Brexit Vote Should Give Pause to EU" ("")

In an opinion piece Volker Wieland calls on all parties to look for new options after the British vote and to make the federation more attractive again.

"The Brexit is followed by the exit: After voting no in the EU referendum, the Three Lions have also left the Euro 2016 tournament. And just as the English team will try to return with a vengeance in the next Euro qualifiers under a new manager, they should also look ahead in terms of the EU.

Economically, a Brexit would be manageable for both sides, even though it will negatively impact economic growth due to their close economic ties – the EU market accounted for 44 percent of British exports and 51 percent of its imports. The turmoil in the financial markets is hardly surprising given the important role London plays in the financial system. But central banks are able to provide enough liquidity to avoid a systemic crisis. However, a European Union without Great Britain would not really be a Union encompassing all of Europe anymore.

The EU referendum vote does not automatically lead to a Brexit. The results show how deeply divided the country is: seventeen million people voted in favor of a Brexit, 16 million against it. The online petition demanding a second EU referendum is gaining more and more support. This alone should give EU leaders pause to look for new options in order to maintain the integrity of the EU instead of calling for a hasty implementation of the Brexit.

The election results in Spain also support this view. The left, centering around Podemos, was unable to forge a coalition, not even with the help of small parties; while Rajoy’s PP emerged as the strongest party, this result is hardly an endorsement of his conservative party.

The British referendum has demonstrated that voters in the EU want more control and sovereignty. This desire for a greater degree of self-determination on national level should be taken seriously. European institutions must be equipped to find and endure the right balance between self-determination and the transfer of sovereignty. This is especially relevant to the euro zone. All reform measures should be based on the notion that liability and control go hand in hand.

While a lot has been achieved already, a few gaps remain to be closed in order to make the currency union stable. For example, the close ties between banks and states should be cut by abolishing the privilege of government bonds in banking regulation. This way, ailing banks are no longer able to take states, whose bonds they may hold, down with them. The no bail-out clause should be strengthened as well: member states should not be responsible for other member states’ liabilities. Governments having to finance themselves in the market pay more attention to sustainable financial policies. The EU Commission should meet its obligations by demanding such sustainable policies instead of calling for even more redistribution and financial aid.

Unlike French President Francois Hollande would make us believe, insecurity is not the biggest problem the EU is facing: it is rather the doubts of whether EU membership is still attractive – and those not only exist in Great Britain. It is best to deal with such doubts calmly and confidently and by showing openness to communication.  Even in the case of Great Britain it is not impossible that a process of rethinking might begin canceling the Brexit altogether. This would be the strongest argument for Europe."

Translation: Jakob Liermann "Brexit-Votum ist ein Auftrag an die EU"