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UK holds the key to the fate of Europe

If the UK left the crisis-hit European Union it would be a huge strategic error, concludes a new report on Europe.

The study, from LSE’s IDEAS centre for the study of international affairs, assesses Europe’s changing economic and political position in the world, particularly its relationships with China and the United States. It argues that the Eurozone crisis represents a strategic opportunity for Europe to rethink itself and become a more powerful united force.European Union flag

The report, Europe in an Asian Century, explores how China looms large in Europe’s recovery from the crisis and is increasingly interested in Europe’s future for economic and wider strategic reasons. And as the US increasingly focuses on Asia, Europe is impelled to carve a role for itself beyond the old certainties of the transatlantic relationship. Europe therefore has a pivotal strategic opportunity to capitalise on these shifts in global power to lay claim to the same key status as China and the US. However, the UK’s obstructionism will prevent Europe from achieving this.

It says: “Europe is unlikely to be able to complete the task of developing foreign policy practice, and thereby lay claim to the same strategic status as China and the United States, if the United Kingdom continues to block moves to develop supranationalised powers for European foreign policy."

The report explains the UK’s pivotal role: “Whilst most expect Berlin to decide the fate of the Eurozone, it may be that London holds the key to the fate of Europe in an Asian Century.”

Its conclusion, written by government advisor Sir Colin Budd, argues that UK obstructionism is both bad for Europe and even worse for the UK.  Sir Colin, a member of LSE IDEAS Advisory Board, explains: “To abandon the entire exercise would not just run diametrically counter to large swathes of our history – for centuries we have been profoundly determined that no other country should be allowed to dominate the European continent – it would also cut off, not just our nose to spite our face, but virtually every portion of our anatomy to spite our whole body.”

The report is composed from papers presented at the Dahrendorf Symposium. It includes contributions from John Stevens, the former Conservative MEP and investment banker who is now the Chairman of EPP UK; the LSE academics Odd Arne Westad, Michael Cox and Mary Kaldor; Thomas Risse of Freie Universtat Berlin and Richard Youngs of University of Warwick.


To read the report: http://www2.lse.ac.uk/IDEAS/publications/reports/SR013.aspx

The Dahrendorf Symposium is an initiative of the Hertie School of Governance, LSE and Stiftung Mercator. It aims to offer European perspectives on the most pressing global challenges of our time: http://www.dahrendorf-symposium.eu/

 For more information, please contact Joanna Bale, LSE Press Office, j.m.bale@lse.ac.uk

 Posted 10 October 2012