Briefing: Brexit or no Brexit ?

23 January 2013 – Presseurop

In Europe, but how exactly? Since it joined the European Community in 1973, the United Kingdom has never sung from the same hymn sheet as its partners. Preferring the single market to political integration, it has remained outside the euro and the Schengen Area, while dragging its feet over transfers of sovereignty implied by EU treaties.

Since the election of David Cameron in 2010, eurosceptics in the Conservative Party and the media appear to be more influential than ever. They are demanding the "repatriation of powers from Brussels to Westminster" and – even more critically – the organisation of a referendum on relations between the UK and the EU.

At the same time, with his refusal to sign the European budgetary treaty and his threat to veto the EU budget, the British prime minister has undermined relations with other European leaders.

The UK and the EU have reached a critical juncture in their common story. Will they succeed in establishing a new equilibrium, or are we about to see a "Brexit" (a British exit from the EU)?