The future of the European Union after Brexit – Talk with Prof. Dr. Gerhard Stahl at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR)
Event: Regional and International Affairs
On September 20th, Prof. Dr. Gerhard Stahl, Visiting Professor at the College of Europe and the Peking University HSBC Business School and former Secretary General of the Committee of the Regions of the EU, gave a talk on the future of the European Union after Brexit at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR).
During his presentation Prof. Dr. Gerhard Stahl shortly presented the historical development of the European integration process and the current structure of the European Union. Subsequently, he explained the reasons for the decision of the majority of the British people to leave the European Union and the political and economic effects of this event on the EU itself, on the world and on China. However, despite the difficulties the Brexit might bring along, Professor Stahl underlined that historical evidence shows that the answer of the EU to crises always has been further integration, which in the end improved the living conditions of most of the people within the Union. Nevertheless, the decision of Great Britain to leave the EU and the fact that in many European countries Eurosceptic and even nationalist parties and movements gain strength shows that a further integration process must be explained more thoroughly and has to be underpinned by a stronger pan-European social policy.
In the subsequent discussion, the Chinese experts especially showed interest to the economic and social effects of the Brexit for Britain and the EU and the question how the Brexit will influence EU-China relations in the future. One expert asked whether the established group of three consisting of the EU’s strongest economies Germany, France and UK now needed a new third part, e.g. Italy or Poland. Prof. Stahl explained that from his point of view the Brexit could be a new chance for a further political integration of the EU, because within the group of three especially Great Britain often showed little interest in this aspect. But as France’s influence within the EU may rise now and it has a tradition of a remarkable administration and comparably strong confidence in the state, the political integration of the EU could receive a new boost. Nevertheless, whether there will be a new member to the group of three has to be seen.
At the end of the discussion meeting, Prof. Stahl and the Chinese experts agreed on the fact that there still is a lot of uncertainty around the Brexit and a lot of questions can only be answered more clearly after Great Britain’s formal withdrawal of membership from the EU, which is expected for the beginning of 2017.