Paradigm shift in the EU - HATICE KARAHAN

Paradigm shift in the EU

It has been a whole year since the people of the U.K. decided that it was time for Brexit and to secede from the EU. At last, the Brexit talks officially started yesterday. Certainly, it will be quite hard to cut the ties that have been woven for years. It is already possible to say that the process, the first session of which was held on June 19, 2017, will witness one of the most contentious secessions.

The level of severity of secession is the most curious point for all in this context. This is because, as a result of the failure of U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s election plan, the conundrum of where the issue will evolve to has considerably escalated. However, it is not hard to guess that the EU will not allow such a smooth Brexit process. The leaders of the union, who will meet in Brussels this week on June 22 in the EU-27 format, will begin deep discussions by opening this page on their agenda. Let me also add that EU institutions, such as the European Banking Authority (EBA), located in London will be addressed in particular. As you see, from now onwards, the EU will roll up its sleeves for Brexit.

BINDING ELEMENTS NEEDED

While the Brexit issue will be a tough test for London, it certainly means the beginning of a new era for Brussels. Indeed, rumors about disintegration, which had long been widespread in the region, were further strengthened with news from the U.K. this time last year. It is a fact that the intended level of integration in the region has not been achieved by the EU because of the economic problems that it has been experiencing, the refugee crisis and the tendency of the rising far-right. At this point, the union is quite aware of the need for binding solutions to prevent potential cracks.

It is also worth emphasizing that we are facing an EU that has started discussing recently various future scenarios to this end. In fact, the five-scenario report (White Paper) which the European Commission (EC) presented in March this year aims to put the region into a brain storm. Area-specific opinion reports, which have been gradually released afterwards, are also aimed at strengthening relevant studies. It is possible to say that there is a prevailing idea about how to strengthen the integration without cracks spreading.

SPEED AND CIRCLES

I had briefly touched on it before. The economic dynamics of the region are the primary binding elements that are essential for the EU’s integration. This is because the way the Single Market and the eurozone will be positioned in the Europe of the future is a serious matter.

So, while action plans to deepen economic unity are being laid out on the one hand, it seems that different scenarios will be taken into consideration on the other. For example, one of the alternatives cited in the White Paper speaks of a kind of integration in which only the Single Market will exist. This is, of course, an extreme model that means breakaway in other areas, from defense to monetary union. However, it also shows that the EU considers many possibilities.

In fact, the issue is quite elaborate. However, it is possible to summarize it from a quick perspective as follows: The EU, which is experiencing various problems at home and sometimes moves away from the convergence of its members, will start to plan different models to evolve into a healthy structure. And Brexit will be like the first practice of this story. In this direction, I can say that the approaches of both “Multi-Speed Europe” which is open to various speeds and "Circles Europe" in which different areas are adopted by different members will also be considered at length.

Moreover, it would be good to emphasize that this potential for transformation is also an opportunity for Turkey. At this point, the issue of updating and deepening the Customs Union agreement will be a crucial process that needs to be accelerated while Brexit negotiations are ongoing.

FOR A COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS…

We elaborated on these deep issues, which I could briefly address here because of space restrictions, in an analysis study that I have co-written with Melih Özsöz, a distinguished EU expert. So, I would like to note that our study titled "Paradigm Shift in the EU," which presents a picture from an economic perspective, was published yesterday by the Foundation for Political Economic and Social Research (SETA).

I would like to present it for your information and interest for a more comprehensive analysis of the issue.

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