News

AEGEE POSITION

Position of AEGEE to the deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union and to the Referendum on EU membership

Adopted at Spring Agora Bergamo, May 2016

On the 19 of February 2016, the European Council published the conclusions adopted during their last meeting, explaining the new member status agreed with the United Kingdom, which David Cameron will present to his electorate before the Referendum on EU membership [1]. The EU Referendum will be held on June 23rd in the United Kingdom, asking citizens whether the UK should remain a member of the EU or leave [2].

AEGEE strives for a diverse and borderless Europe, socially and politically integrated, and we see our vision of Europe seriously challenged by this agreement and the negative consequences of Britain potentially leaving the EU.

The United Kingdom’s position within the European Union has always been one of the most emotive issues in British minds. It was already the subject of the first ever UK-wide referendum in 1975. Today, this issue is back with a call for Referendum by British Prime Minister David Cameron for the 23rd of June 2016 [2] and an agreement with the European Council concerning a new settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union [1]. The impact of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union and the subsequent period of uncertainty and negotiations until the effective withdrawal takes place would be devastating for the European project, and would have severe consequences on fields such as youth mobility and freedom of movement. In fact, the whole process constitutes a step back in Europe’s political integration and sets up a dangerous precedent that can lead to similar processes in different Member States. This will foster the fragmentation of the single market and threaten the principle of equal rights for all the citizens within the EU. Furthermore, the vast majority of young British citizens favour staying in the European Union [3]. Yet, even the new settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union, as the alternative to a Brexit is not compatible with the ideal of AEGEE-Europe’s vision of a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe, and challenges our principle of inclusive society where citizens enjoy equal opportunities and rights.

The new agreement states that “It is recognised that the United Kingdom… is not committed to further political integration into the European Union” [1]. In AEGEE we believe that the construction of an integrated Europe is key for the development of the European Union. All the 28 states of the European Union should work together on the direction of a better union. One of the members not participating into the integration process will result into the failure of this integration and the progressive exclusion of the United Kingdom.

The new settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union challenges the notion of equal rights between European Union citizens in two aspects:

The free movement of workers within member states is challenged by this new deal by giving the Member States, under certain conditions, the power to restrict the rights and entitlements of EU citizens working in other Member States. Such a statement has raised our concerns on how this will affect youth employment and youth mobility, limiting the access of young Europeans to other Member States’ job market. Also the limitation of access to in-work benefits for a period of four (up to 7) years buries the principle of equality that is key for the construction of the European Project [1].

In more, we are concerned that this agreement will seed the ground for further agreements fostering the disunion rather than the union between Member States.

First, AEGEE-Europe encourages UK citizens to vote to remain in the EU. AEGEE further recommends policy makers to be aware of the serious implications and negative consequences of a potential Brexit.

As AEGEE-Europe, we believe it is crucial for both the UK and all other 27 Member States that the UK stays part of the EU. Only together can we respond to Europe’s most pressing problems. Nationalism and isolation will not be capable of responding to today’s and tomorrow’s challenges in a globalised world: only together do we have the resources and the influence to cope with them.

Finally, all Member States are encouraged to participate in the political integration of the European Union.

While the EU is certainly not perfect, the best way to reform it is from within. Only together, young citizens from all over Europe, can we call for the changes needed to realise a democratic, borderless Europe. We firmly believe that the stability and the image of a European Union unified in diversity will only be achievable with compromise and commitment from all Member States, elaborating common policies and sharing common responses to international issues.