I used to be pro-Brexit, now I’m a European federalist. Here’s why.

, by Jordan Barry

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I used to be pro-Brexit, now I'm a European federalist. Here's why.
Pro-European demonstrators in Hyde Park, London in 2017. Photo: ilovetheeu / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A little over two years ago, the political course of my country changed so profoundly and so abruptly that no-one could keep up. At the same time I was preparing for my final exam of secondary education as well as celebrating the fact that Brexit had finally arrived. At that moment, it seemed to me that the people of my country were taking back control of their future. How quickly things change. My country, the United Kingdom, went from shaping the future of Europe to having very little influence left.

I first had my doubts about Brexit when I began looking closer into careers and my own future. Seeing the wealth of opportunity on continental Europe but knowing that I will lose my freedom of movement rights was very hard to accept, and has felt like an obstacle in my path. But how did this spur me to explore European federalism? I find in the idea of a unified Europe something to look up to and find great hope in. We see the success of countries such as the United States of America and China, and we know that Europe as a continent of smaller states can never match these powerhouses for their economy, military or soft power. Similarly, no European country alone can tackle the pressing issues of climate change, migration or the Eurocrisis. These are issues that impact so many of us, but first and foremost they affect the poorest in our continent regardless of where they may live within it.

It’s not that these matters were not present before 23rd June 2016, but we have now seen how important it is for Europe to remain united in its quest for meaningful change and permanent peace. The USA has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord, Russia continues to knock on our doorstep in the East and it’s becoming clear that individual countries alone are struggling to cope with the migrant crisis in the South. Renewed European solutions can fix all of these and more.

In its current form, however, the EU is unable to do so. In nearly every country across the Union, there are many publicly speaking out about the democratic deficit within our institutions and how out-of-touch the Brussels Bubble has become. These people are right. A Parliament that cannot enact its own legislation; a confusing tricameral legislative system; and a Commission appointed not by the people but by the nation-states, each one acting in its own interests above those of the citizens of this continent. All of these make for a situation where Eurosceptics are able to control the narrative around democracy and cultivate an ‘Elite versus The People’ mindset. Without looking further into the problems clouding Europe, it’s easy to get caught up in calling for a return to the nation-state – I certainly did.

I, alongside many others, was pro-Brexit because of this. But as we are leaving I feel now that the UK will miss out on a huge opportunity to become part of something greater. A Europe where children from the great expanse between Lisbon and Helsinki aspire to become President of the European Federation, no different to children in the United States wishing to be President. One continent united by its common past, present and future. One economy where good jobs can be found regardless of nationality. And one Union with great power and influence to defend its citizens and reach out to others.

Give us an elected President, scrap the European Council, and guarantee a truly European politics with European parties made of European citizens instead of national parties. These simple yet radical provisions would have possibly prevented Brexit by enhancing democracy across the Union. Together we can solve the crises that haunt our continent, but first we must reinvent the European Union so that it is more responsive and democratic. The status quo cannot fight against the Eurosceptics, but democracy can win – and it will.

Your comments
  • On 25 July 2018 at 09:55, by François Mennerat Replying to: I used to be pro-Brexit, now I’m a European federalist. Here’s why.

    Good that you now reached conversion to euro-federalism! But please, please! No elected President! Just a good plain parliamentary democracy and no referenda. Elected Presidents are out of control. Once elected, they behave like monarchs. Look at Trump! Even look at Macron, De Gaulle’s heir in his function. A “Head of State” being granted would-be democratic legitimacy and a free-rein for five years is intolerable. For the rest of your stance, you are right. The European project has to be urgently brought to completion. It is an incremental process that must go on. As it stands, it is unbearable. You would be welcom in UEF www.federalists.eu

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