Opportunities and Risks of the Proposed Referendum on United Kingdom's Membership in the EU (BREXIT)

Term Paper (Advanced seminar) 2015 24 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Topic: European Union



List of Abbreviations

1. Initiation
a. Subject of the paper
b. Structure of the paper
c. Methodical Approach
d. Status of research

2. For a more detailed analysis, » Awkwardness and reliability« by Michael Melcher can be highly recommended. It is an extensive overview of British policy, which is able to explain a lot of its specifics.
a. Definitions

3. Opportunities
a. Budget
b. European Restrictions/ Interventions
i. Economy
c. Awkward Partner
d. Human Rights

4. Risks
a. Economy
i. Finance Sector
b. Benefits from the EU

5. All you need to do: square the circle?

6. Count pros and cons and just decide?

7. Final Conclusion



Internet Resources

List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1. Initiation

a. Subject of the paper

Our current political situation couldn’t be more interesting. Besides global problems on terrorism, global warming and wars all around the world, there is one major topic in our news: it´s the EU with its internal problems from financing Greece to internal stability. The last mentioned point will be subject of that paper, because Britain is deeply divided about the proposed referendum on United Kingdom´s Membership in the European Union, respectively its opportunities and risks. During the last election in the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron took the referendum into the manifesto of his Conservative Party because of the annual debates about costs and benefits from the EU and after winning the election he now has to stand up for it. The back then started campaign »Let Britain decide« will now reveal, whether or not the Brits want to stay or not. Especially European restrictions seem to bother the United Kingdom, e.g. the EU-work directive, which costs Britain approximately 1,8 Billion Pounds a year (cf. Volkery 2013). Taking a German newspaper as a source, the atmosphere is currently changing from »stay in« to »go out« with 49:51% (Wittmann 2015), which shows the importance to compare possible risks with opportunities before the referendum talks place It is not unreasonable to think about Britain leaving the EU as, for example, Anthony Forster lists the historically settled problems between Europe and Great Britain in his book-summary like it is inevitable for the UK to leave: “British entry to the Common Market, Changing attitudes to Europe, The struggle against Political Union, The struggle against Monetary Union” (Forster 2002: Contents). And talking about the legality of that referendum is therefore not an option, because Article 50 TEU (Treaties of the European Union) settles the possibility of a voluntary resignation (cf. Streinz et al. 2008: 38-39). Some authors are already talking about the “Current dilemma” in British politics (Kavanagh et al. 2006: 153) because economists argue about the use of the EU, while the advantages of it “[…] lassen sich nicht belegen” (Volkery 2013).

b. Structure of the paper

The main part of the seminar paper is going to start, after introducing the topic in the initiation, with an analytically and descriptively chapter of analysing the pros and cons of leaving the EU. The first section of the main part is therefore divided in two parts, the opportunities and the risks. In the course of doing this, the perspective is clearly aligned to the UK itself, so that one should be able to decide, whether or not it will be good for the British people to vote yes or no and which decision they should take. Possible consequences for the EU are completely hidden, because it doesn’t matter for the Brits, who take part in this referendum. In addition to that there will be an analytic part of discussing the meaning of the mentioned opportunities and risks as section two of the main part. Subsequently, in an overview chapter, the advantages and disadvantages are going to be compared to each other to be able to qualify both of them. The final conclusion will take place in Chapter 5, in which the paper will be finished with an outlook and an analysis which option to take.

c. Methodical Approach

To edit the subject, the evaluation of the scientific literature is applied as well as reports of the government and governmental organizations. More than that, the paper focuses on newspaper articles which will be the main sources because of the topicality. That is why, as nature of comparisons, this work focuses on analytically and descriptively evaluation of the literature and newspapers to be able to designate advantages and disadvantages.

d. Status of research

For the status of research one have undoubtedly to name »Brexit« by Denis MacShane, in which he creates both, a good overview and a detailed analysis of the difficult and far-reaching issue. In general, there are a lot of good papers and books that deal with the British policy itself. Especially Roland Sturm and Hans Kastendiek are one of the most important authors dealing with Westminster, as well as Bernard Steunenberg. Christian Schubert analysed the British problem of being in between of two worlds, why he is very important for this paper, whereas Bergmann considers EU concerns in his work »Handlexikon der Europäischen Union«. All together are able to cover the background of that paper, while newspaper articles and scientific journals are used to process the Brexit itself, namely e.g. the APuZ (Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte).

2. For a more detailed analysis, » Awkwardness and reliability« by Michael Melcher can be highly recommended. It is an extensive overview of British policy, which is able to explain a lot of its specifics.

a. Definitions

For this paper, the EU and Europe should be understood as the same. Of course, one is more a political and one a geographical term, and leaving the EU wouldn’t mean leaving Europe (because that’s not possible), but for the readers easement, this paper doesn’t distinguish between the two terms.

As well the terms Britain, the UK, United Kingdom, England and the matching adjective British are all meaning the same. They are all based on the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island, sphere of influence of Prime Minister David Cameron and the British government. There will be no distinction between e.g. Scotland and England or Great Britain and the United Kingdom. The variation of terms is just used for refinement of speech.

3. Opportunities

The »Süddeutsche Zeitung« quotes that it was always more important for London “[…] die europäische Integration zu behindern“ (Bahr 2014). So why should one stay in a community that has changed through the last 40 years from a system of economic cooperation to a political system, which seems to be not relevant (cf. Volkery 2013)? In general EU critics believe that “[…] Britain is being held back by the EU, which they say imposes too many rules on business and charges billions of pounds a year in membership fees for little in return.” Moreover Britain should “[…] take back full control of its borders” (BBC 2015). That is why you have to look at both, advantages and disadvantages to be able to take the correct decision. Here are some more reasons for leaving in detail:

a. Budget

Volkery thinks that budget is one of the most important points and he’s not alone with this opinion about this advantage of leaving the EU: Zuleeg names it “[…] an area where a UK exit would have a major impact is the EU budget” (Zuleeg 2014). But why seems the budget to be so important? Because Great Britain is one of the biggest net contributors in Europe. This is why they think that paying that much in relation to getting that less is not very useful indeed.

Statista (2015) calculates the benefits from the EU minus the payments to -8,64 Billion Euro, this means that the UK paid 8,64 Billion Euro more than they got back in 2014. Taking just the outgoings from Britain’s budget, one must estimate 14,6 Billion Euro for the EU annually. So all in all one can understand why Eurosceptic camps are not very satisfied about the »wasted money«. We will discuss in later chapters if it’s really that much wasted or not, it is clear though that the UK is paying more than they get, like other countries as well, because that’s how the political union works.

b. European Restrictions/ Interventions

Europe is a political community where it is normal to set rules for all members. It’s like setting a new law in Westminster and mocking about its existence in Wales. It is significant though to mention, that Europe isn’t a legal state. It is, critically seen, neither a federal state, nor a confederation. It is something in between, but European laws do have a legality of national law (cf. Weidenfeld/ Wessels 2009: 379)! So Brussels is supranational while having no »nation«.

That´s in fact a big point for the Brits as well, because that way Businesses have to comply with EU principles without being able to influence them in the way they want to, because it is possible and common in a way that European law breaks national law. Taking this business point as a whole subchapter afterwards, you should just note that it would be possible for the economy to create a benefit for Britain of 1,1% of GDP because British businesses could be better off without having to comply with EU regulations. Later we´ll discuss in detail why leaving could be a profit for the economy.

Another good example for EU restrictions is the policy of immigration. All member states do have to deal with this regulation, no matter what. In moment, Germany is getting trouble with Brussel because of breaking that law, which in fact shows the importance and the savagely way of imposing supranational law. So if Britain wants to do an immigration policy like Australia for example, it wouldn’t be possible for them. Even closing borders without paying attention to any external regulations is not imaginable.

Further examples of restrictive EU regulations, from which Britain could free itself, are the ones for social policy, with its directive on the working time. The UK was against this direction of policy making right from the beginning on, which was noted from Phinnemore and McGowan:

“The United Kingdom […] strongly resisted the development of EC competences in the field of social policy and was highly critical of the 1989 Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers; the country moreover gained an opt-out at Maastricht from the new social policy protocol that was annexed to the Treaty on European Union (TEU)” (Phinnemore/ McGowan 2002: 337).

So all in all you can say, that Britain has to deal with a lot of political stuff, they want to (or could want to) do on their own. Of course, one could object that these kinds of problems are quite usual for a country in a political union, but you have to see as well, that Britain once joined an economic union and less a political one, because sense of the European Union was to “[…] foster economic co-operation with the idea that countries […] trade together” (BBC 2015). Hence it is possible to think about getting back the »freedom« of taking one’s own decisions, no matter what someone says. Therefore leaving the EU would be a possible option for quitting EU regulations in a country.



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
426 KB
Catalog Number
Institution / College
University of Würzburg – Institut für Politik und Soziologie
BREXIT Referendum EU Great Britain Austritt Mitgliedschaft UK Awkward Partner Membership Europa Großbritannien England Cameron Human Rights Menschenrechte Geberland




Title: Opportunities and Risks of the Proposed Referendum on United Kingdom's Membership in the EU (BREXIT)