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May

Mon 16 May 2016 / Europe

Greeks benefiting from Brexit rhetoric

Greece seems likely to be a big beneficiary of heated European rhetoric over the British referendum and the ousting of the Austrian chancellor in a dispute over the rise of far-right politicians. Attrition in the UK and Austria has greatly contributed to softening German policy on Greek debt over the past week. Berlin fears a British departure would open it to an unholy combination of protectionism and demands for German largesse from other European countries, particularly France and Italy.

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Thu 19 May 2016 / Europe

Competition of uncertainty

This referendum on European Union membership is irreversible and really does matter to the whole of Europe. Even with a majority of just one vote for 'Brexit', Britain will leave the EU. There is no option of a second referendum with a better deal on the table. The EU's deficiencies are evident and generally accepted – in particular an inefficient decision-making process and the single currency project, which at best was poorly implemented and at worst misconceived. But it does not follow that Britain should leave.

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Tue 31 May 2016 / Europe

A vote for European balance

The UK is likely to stay in the European Union after the 23 June vote. So I have been backing a contrarian positive outlook for sterling since its lows in March, when disquiet about a British exit was at its height. Europe's fragile economic and political equilibrium has been overly dependent on a balancing act performed by one person, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. A British exit, or indeed Merkel's own departure if she went precipitously, would cause Germany and Europe to face complex realpolitik challenges of the kind that confronted Otto von Bismarck, Germany’s legendary chancellor in the 1870s and 1880s. The best outcome for European stability would lie in the UK remaining inside the EU.

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Thu 26 May 2016 / Europe

Stay or leave: a sovereign choice

At the heart of the debate about Britain's EU membership lies an argument over the meaning of sovereignty and democratic legitimacy. Everything else is sophistry. If there is one lesson developing countries and emerging markets should learn from the crisis of the EU, it is that they must be extremely cautious in approaching experiments in multinational integration. We see in Britain the contradictions between national sovereignty and cross-border integration: in essence, the limits of globalisation.

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Tue 24 May 2016 / Europe

Britain’s risks are in staying, not leaving

David Cameron, the British prime minister, has unambiguously shown the futility of attempts to gain significant EU reforms. That’s why I shall be voting No on 23 June. Departing would bring many positive changes. For British security in its deepest sense – economic, political, military and social – remaining in dysfunctional EU, dragged down by a failing euro, is, I believe, a dangerous option. Remaining in the EU is more risky more than leaving.

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Mon 23 May 2016 / Europe

Avarice of strangers

The balance of payments – which looms large in the debate over Britain’s membership of the European Union – is double-entry book keeping. A current account deficit always equals financial (and capital) account inflows. A floating exchange rate clears the currency market. Analysing balance of payments and foreign direct investment data has a role in the debate about Britain and Europe. But no one – including the governor of the Bank of England – should overstretch the arguments.

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Mon 9 May 2016 / Europe

Keep calm and carry on

I would regret Britain leaving the European Union. But ‘Brexit’ would not be the end of the world. It would not lead to a global financial crisis. Markets would have ample time to prepare. Central banks stand ready to intervene. The full effects of British departure would not become immediately apparent. They will only be seen after a transition period of at least two years of hammering out the details. This makes things less dramatic. British exit would create risks – but they can be managed.

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Fri 13 May 2016 / North America,Europe

Rebelling against bipartisanship

The US national security establishment really, really does not want Britain to leave the European Union. This is a foreign policy issue that, somewhat astonishingly in fractious Washington, enjoys solid bipartisan backing. In a discussion at the Atlantic Council this week, the argument was couched in purely binary terms. Leaving means weakness. Staying spells strength. But harmony can be deceptive. When the establishment unites, voters can rebel.

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Fri 6 May 2016 / Europe

The answer lies in duality

There can be no single European way forward. The answer is two Europes. One centred on the euro and aiming at an ever closer political union, the other refuting shared sovereignty and built on trade liberalisation and the single market. Both can exist within a broader EU. A less balanced, more fragile and more fractured EU would represent a loss of stability, opportunity and wellbeing for all.

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Thu 12 May 2016 / Europe

Where Europe has weight

Joint EU action has had a real impact on some of the most important global questions, including those directly affecting UK interests. Should Britain leave the EU, its ability to shape world events would be diminished, including in defending British interests. EU member states would continue working together. The UK could take part on an ad hoc basis, but would forfeit the right directly to influence EU foreign policy-making. It's hard to see how this would benefit the UK – unless a diminished foreign policy is its goal.

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