Brexit – Europe, Britain, and the World

Credits: User Furfur, Wikipedia (GNU Standard Documentation License)

BREXIT è arrivato anche da noi. La Redazione di English4Italy.com è molto spiacente della decisione della Gran Bretagna di lasciare la UE - come molte regioni del Regno Unito che hanno votato per restare, da Londra alla Scozia, non condivide la scelta di lasciare l'Europa, pur accettando la volontà della Gran Bretagna, non solo per ragioni di solidarietà verso l'Europa, e l'Italia che amiamo profondamente, ma anche per le ripercussioni destinata ad avere sul nostro lavoro di ricercatori e insegnanti. Il nostro team ha constatato personalmente come all'indomani del Brexit, un'ondata di intolleranza si stia manifestando in alcune parti del Regno Unito a danno delle minoranze etniche di origine straniera che vi risiedono legalmente, hanno passaporto e cittadinanza britannici, portano ogni giorno ricchezza al Paese contribuendo alla sua crescita culturale. La Gran Bretagna è sempre stata un paese di stranieri, tutte le sue case regnanti sono e furono di origine straniera. I Windsor sono di origine tedesca. Condanniamo profondamente queste manifestazioni di odio e xenofobia. La nostra missione, come quella di tutti gli educatori, non è soltanto insegnare una materia, ma educare alla tolleranza, valorizzando la diversità etnico-culturali che da sempre sono state il motore di sviluppo civile ed economico dei nostri popoli. Ci auguriamo che l'uscita sia il meno difficile possibile, ma continueremo a manifestare sostegno e solidarietà all'UE e ai loro cittadini. Crediamo nell'Europa, crediamo negli Europei, anche perché facciamo anche noi parte di questa realtà.

Il 12 maggio 2016 un documentario, realizzato attraverso una raccolta di fondi, veniva proiettato all'Odeon in Leicester Square a Londra e diffuso su YouTube e Vimeo il giorno dopo. Il totolo, Brexit, deriva dalla fusione di Britain + Exit. Il film fu visto da 1.700.000 di persone solo su You Tube. Il tema centrale del film, che incontrò il successo di gran parte dei conservatori e libertari Americani, ritrae la UE come una burocrazia tirannica, uno superstato totalitario che aveva di fatto soppresso la democrazia in Gran Bretagna. La campagna politica anti-UE, di fatto gestita dal ramo più conservatore britannico, i Tories, col sostegno politico di alcuni importanti politici conservatori Statunitensi, ha avuto come risultato l'effettiva uscita della Gran Bretagna dalla UE con referendum popolare del 23 giugno 2016. Ma cosa vuol dire "Brexit" in pratica, non solo per l'economia, ma anche per chi, come noi, studia e ricerca fuori dal Regno Unito?

Anche se le pratiche per il distacco dalla UE (art.50) richiederanno alcune settimane perché Brexit sia effettivo, le conseguenze si stanno facendo sentire già pochi giorni dal voto, dalla svalutazione della Sterlina alla perdita delle borse europee e britanniche. Ma qual’è l’impatto di Brexit sulle Università e le scuole? Molti ricercatori e studenti, sia britannici sia italiani, vivono, come molti europei in più paesi grazie ad accordi europei. Ma questo potrebbe finire. L'uscita dall'Unione Europea sospende a tutti gli effetti il trattato di Schengen, sulla libera circolazione dei cittadini da e in Gran Bretagna, se pensiamo a quante persone lavorano tra un paese e l'altro dell'Unione senza per forza avere la residenza o la cittadinanza in uno di questi stati, se gli accordi tra università richiedono scambi continui e spostamenti di studenti e ricercatori, allora si possono comprendere appieno le conseguenze di Brexit. Tra i motivi che hanno spinto i britannici a lasciare l'Unione, il timore di un'immigrazione incontrollata dall'Europa ma anche il timore, nelle persone più anziane che ricordano la Seconda Guerra Mondiale, che si formasse una dittatura continentale dominata dalla Germania. E' proprio nella storia, che vanno ricercati i motivi di fondo che hanno portato la Gran Bretagna a votare per restare, o per uscire. L'idea dell'unione nasce infatti dal desiderio di avere una pace duratura nel dopoguerra, e dal timore che un vasto stato socialista sotto l'URRS potesse farcilmente penetrare in un'Europa economicamente e politicamente divisa quale quella del dopoguerra...(continua in inglese)

The Reasons for Leaving

On June 23rd the British people went to the polls to decide whether to stay in or leave the EU. The result was known the following: the "leave" vote had it. 16,141,241 citizens had voted to remain (48.11%), but 17,410,742 had chosen to leave (51.89%). The reasons given for the "leave" by those who voted Brexit are many. Some Britons were worried about the Schengen Treaty which allows E.U. citizens, but also migrants coming from other member countries to enter freely the U.K., claiming that the current rate of migration was unsustainable and a security threat.

In the wake of the mass exodus from the middle East caused by the occupation of IS (the "Islamic State") of part of Syria and Iraq, some feared that people coming from that region might become a threat to security. Finally, the older generations, generally more conservative and favorable to a trade-free zone rather than a political union, feared that the Union might become a superstate controlled by France or Germany, like the ones once created by Napoleon, and more recently, by Hitler. This fear was stronger among those who experienced WW2.

The reasons for Brexit are explained in a crowfunded movie shown on the 12th of May at the Odeon in Leicester Square, London, then uploaded to the internet the day after (see video below). Praised by Breitart a known right-wing magazine in the U.S. accused of right-wing, populist activism by mainstream newspapers like Newsweek and the Huffington Post, and had been the subject of controversy for its explicit propaganda tones.

The Reasons for Staying

Among the reasons for Brexit given by the "remain" minority is also the free trade agreement that does not allow substantial restrictions on imports by companies from other countries of the E.U. Fears of another recession caused by the more conservative policy of Brussels, with more cuts on spending and strict debt ceilings may have increased fear of immigration by E.U. as well as non-European citizens living in other member countries beyond its real level. Political parties like UKIP and the Tories within the Conservative Party campaigned vigorously against the E.U. Not all the voters knew that the E.U. contributed to the economic welfare of Britain by lowering import and export taxes for EU member states, subsidizing the economy in the less affluent areas of Britain, as farming in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. More money came to Britain from British businesses based in other member states because Schengen allowed for the free circulation of workers across the E.U., making it easier for Britons to work in continental Europe as for workers from countries as France or Germany to work in Britain. This is the case of Airbus-Rolls Royce, two giant French and British corporations which work together in the aerospace industry. The common market was instrumental in the growth of this, as many other, businesses because they can employ and deploy a skilled workforce from and all over Europe. As in many other sectors, Airbus and Rolls Royce have predicted that Brexit, by giving up the free market and the Schengen Agreement will cost thousands of jobs in the near future. The exit from the EU will also make it harder from exchange students and researchers across the Union to travel from and to Britain. Many Italian, as British researchers working in London and Italyfor eg. may be forced to go because Brexit makes them illegal residents outside of their own country, unless a solution is found soon. Worrying about the economic consequences of restrictions on imports and exports plunged the exchange rate of the pound v the U.S. dollar. Because after Brexit all agreements between European states must be renegotiated, a domino effect may force Europe and almost every country in the world to renegotiate their own trading agreements with Europe and Britain. Once the new agreements are in place in two-five years, the economy will get over the crisis - meanwhile the businesses thriving on free trade and free travel both in Britain and other E.U. member states may be affected, with thousands of workers at risk of losing their jobs in the near future.

Asking why European states had decided to relinquish part of their sovereignty to an "abstract entity" as the European Parliament and Government is probably a revealing question. By and large, however, when newspapers and TV Channels are analyzing today's social and economic factors leading to Brexit, they do not seem to recall why Europe had been pushing for closer integration. The answer can be found in the history books.

The EU - Origins, Reasons for its Foundation

To understand why Europe sought closer economic and political integration, one needs to look at the history of the EU. Postwar European states agreed to seek closer integration to avert another World War. France and Germany were the two most concerned parties. Germany feared France's attrition even after the peace treaty at the end of WW2, that is why Konrad Adenhauer pushed for the Creation of the European Coal and Steel Community - the man called to run it was Alcide de Gasperi, the 30th Prime Minister of Italy who reached an agreement with Austrian minister Gruber that ensured peace in the sensitive area of Trentino and Sud-Tyrol . Germany first saw the proposed free trade agreement as a sellout of its iron and coal resources to its former enemy - Adenhauer also pressed for Germany's rearmament. because the nation was split in two at the time, its eastern border being under threat of a invasion from the Eastern Block and saw rearming as an insurance against Soviet invasion. France feared a free trade area with Germany. German rearmament though also made France nervous. Eventually Adenhauer agreed to that when Germany approved France's draft for a European Defense Community. The ECSC was the foundation of what would become the EEC, the European Economic Community (Treaty of Rome, 1957 - the first nations in the Agreement included Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany). Rather than a modern invention, the E.U. is the result of the combined effort of Europe to bring peace and stability to a continent that had been torn by war for more than a millennium, in the hope to another devastating conflicts as WW2. These efforts also met the support of the U.S., paving the way for an unprecedented period of prosperity, peace and stability that has lasted to this day. For those of us who did not live through the war, it may be easier to take peace and prosperity for granted, and lose sight of the dangers of armed conflict. That danger is still there (a recession, as in 1929, has caused an increased popularity of Nazi ideology and many separatist movements). If memory of the past is lost we are not just doomed to lose the EU, we may once day face the same issues our fathers and grandfathers had experienced in the 1930s and 1940s.

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