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British youth is pro European Union – what does Cameron say?

In normal circumstances these news should make politicians start thinking. We are close to the speech by British Prime Minister David Cameron on the relationship between the UK and the European Union. Latest news say that Cameron is going to held his Europe speech next Monday, writes the FT. The news which should attract politicians on the island is that according to a poll conducted by YouGov on behalf of the London Office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Fabian Society young British citizens are clearly in favour for membership in the European Union. A long-term and sustainable policy towards Europe should take those results into consideration. But PM Cameron is going to satisfy the Eurosceptic members of his party and will announce his will to renegotiate the relationship with the EU while staying a full member the same time. Where is your sagacious policy, Mr. Prime Minister?

Britain in the EU – A question of age
The table below shows the results on the crystal clear question whether the UK should stay in the EU or leave a huge two-thirds majority of the people aged 18 to 34 say they would like to stay in the European Union. Moreover the numbers show that the older people are the more sceptic they are about the membership in the EU.

Table from: http://www.social-europe.eu/2013/01/new-poll-young-brits-want-to-stay-in-the-eu/
Table from:
http://www.social-europe.eu/2013/01/new-poll-young-brits-want-to-stay-in-the-eu/

Camerons’ Europe
Politicians tend to focus their policy on their target group not always on logic or the best outcome. That is why PM Cameron will give his Eurosceptic speech. He gives his speech for this special audience bus usus a completely different justification: In his mind he has the right to shape the bilateral relationship between the UK and the EU because other European member states do integrate even more out of the experiences of the Euro crisis. The motto is: If they go deeper, I can go looser. But that’s not how the European Union works. The “ever closer union” was already put down in the first treaties back in the 1950s while Britain joined in the 1970s. This time the UK-EU debate has come truly to the point where Britain has to decide to stay behind or to finally accept the European reality of the 21st century. Many prominent people including top representatives of the British economy and the financial sector vote clearly in favour of staying in.

Political courage needed – a strategy that could prevail
The biggest problem of all is that knowing now the recent numbers about the younger generation in Britain and their opinion of EU membership it does not make sense to ignore these results and to stick to the “satisfying-Eurosceptic-policy” of Mr. Cameron. The young people in the UK want to live in an integrated Europe. One reason could be that they know the positive facts about the membership and don’t have only ears to the false myths of EU-membership which have a decae-long tradition in the UK.

A forward looking PM would focus on the younger generation to shape the country now for the needs they have when they will take over the lead. Playing still the old game and blaming Europe on many things and thinking to have a better success with staying alone then with working together does not help. Cameron could use the results of the poll ro reshape his European policy for the good of the young British generation. True, this would cause much trouble with his (older) Eurosceptic wing within the Conservative Party – but it is worth it in the long run. To do this Cameron needs courage and a have a lot of staying power – which is hard as he does not only have to fight his own Eurosceptics but also the fraternized media – but if he is able to mobilize those two-thirds of the younger Brits he might prevail.

Young peoples opinion do matter
Involving the needs and interests of young people should have more importance in daily politics. In such a big question of being a member of the EU or not the current government should take this even more into account. The question has an outstanding effect on the future of a whole country. Therefore ask the young ones where they do see their country – inside or outside the European Union. The answer is given already!

Published inEuropean Union

2 Kommentare

  1. I want out I want out

    This article is interesting in a number of ways.

    Firstly the question does not mention closer integration, just whether the UK should stay part of the EU, the implication being the EU as it is currently configured. Given the clear movement of the EU and the federalist agenda, a far more revealing and relevant question might have been “If there was a referendum on whether or not Britain should join the euro how would you vote?” membership of the euro being essential for membership of an integrated EU. Such a question would make it absolutely clear what a positive vote would mean. I suspect that would have provided an entirely different result. Certainly polling evidence for many years has about 80% of the UK population against ever joining the euro, even the Scottish Nationalist Party has made it clear that while an independent Scotland would want to join the EU it would not join the euro. So what exactly are the younger voters in favour of ?

    Secondly, as a general rule young people do tend to be more idealistic in their outlook, it is one of the features of youth and has always been the case. As cold reality intrudes and they experience life it is amazing how many reverse their views. Clearly those of the 40 – 59 have spent the vast majority of their lives in the EU, it is interesting how they are much less enthusiastic.

    Finally the government is meant to represent the entire population. Your figures still show a clear majority wishing to leave the EU. Are you suggesting that people above the age of 34 be disenfranchised ?

    You are of course right, “many prominent people including top representatives of the British economy and the financial sector vote clearly in favour of staying in.” You might also mention for the sake of completeness that just as many take exactly the opposite view, for example a poll of financiers published by Open Europe 14/12/11 showed 68% in favour of renegotiated deal with the EU. The British Chamber of Commerce (representing 100,000 businesses) reported on 19/07/12 that 9% want closer relations with the EU, 12% want to leave entirely and 47% want looser links. Most of those in favour of remaining in the EU campaigned vigorously for membership of the euro and are now seen as offering the same scare stories as they did then but are considerably less credible than they used to be.

    Either way, you seem to be suggesting that a referendum should be given to the UK population by the government. We can all agree on that and hope that it is run as soon as possible.

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