Dear Brothers and Sisters

Letter to our European friends following the UK’s decision on ‘Brexit’.

I say brothers and sisters because we are. The UK people are the descendants of the many waves of migration from Europe over centuries – Romans, Vikings, Vandals, Angles, Saxons, Normans,… –  so our ancestors are common. We have all fought the good fight over recent centuries against those who would dominate the continent by force.

The European Union is a wonderful dream to bring together the peoples of Europe in peaceful and fruitful cooperation. I am sad that my fellows have decided not to continue with you in such close association. I suspect that as a result you should yourselves reflect on whether the current realisation of the EU is adequate to the purpose, and whether enough regard has been given to the EU’s founding ideals of subsidiarity and democracy – taking decisions at the furthest possible point from the centre. However, that is now a matter for you.

What is needed now is that we all seize the opportunity to create a new form of association between UK and EU so that our continent remains united around our common values. The precedents of Switzerland, Norway and Iceland augur well.

What is not needed is posturing, fear-mongering and any desire to punish. Let’s imagine a central more-integrated Union surrounded by states with common values and varying but lesser levels of integration. We can still form the world’s strongest economic bloc and remain a major influence together, as we address the real impacts that will increasingly hit us related to energy, climate change and related wars, terrorism and economic problems. A looser form of periphery could indeed make it easier to expand the sphere of influence of the Union.

Yes you will be afraid that our French siblings and maybe others will also wish to vote to leave. The way to avoid that is to address the problems that might cause this, not to punish the UK, which of course would effectively be self-punishment. Of course, there must also still be advantages to those in the Union that are not available to those outside. The coming negotiations will stretch the ingenuity of those involved, but will only work if approached in a positive spirit on all sides.

With love and hope…

Featured image by Rob984, via Wikimedia Commons

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