Growing Uneasiness EU Preparing for a Possible Brexit

SPIEGEL has learned that the foreign ministers of six EU countries have met to discuss the implications of Britain's possible departure from the European Union. They fear that difficult negotiations over the course of two years could result.

The EU is preparing for Brexit.
REUTERS

The EU is preparing for Brexit.


In Brussels, preparations have begun for the possibility that the British electorate chooses to leave the European Union in the referendum to be held on June 23. Foreign ministers from the six founding states of the European Union met last Friday at the Château de Val-Duchesse just outside the Belgian capital to discuss possible consequences.

SPIEGEL has learned that Martin Selmayr, the head of cabinet for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, held a meeting on Monday with representatives from some EU states to take part in the discrete talks. The meetings are considered to be extremely sensitive since nobody in Brussels wants to give the impression that the EU is anticipating the British will vote to leave the EU. In reality, however, uneasiness is on the rise at EU headquarters given how even the two sides are according to British public opinion polls.

The discussion at Château de Val-Duchesse made it clear that the foreign ministers, including Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault, believe that, should Britain vote to leave, difficult negotiations over the course of two years would result. "A lot of money would be at stake," one of the meeting participants told SPIEGEL. The foreign ministers agreed that, should Brexit become a reality, Europe would badly need a boost of energy. Luxembourgian Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called for more solidarity among Europeans, and not just in the refugee crisis.

EU Denies Times Report about an EU Army

Among those invited to the meeting called by Selmayr were Chancellor Angela Merkel's advisor on European affairs, Uwe Corsepius, as well as representatives from France, Slovakia and Malta. Slovakia is scheduled to take over the rotating EU presidency in July and Malta is to follow in that role in January 2017. In addition, European Social Democrats are currently working on a paper calling for the intensification of European integration.

Meanwhile, those in favor of Britain's departure from the EU have begun resorting to dubious reports in their effort to win over voters. A story in the British daily The Times on Friday claims that the EU has taken "steps towards creating a European army." According to the story in the conservative euroskeptic paper, the plan was to have been kept secret until after the Brexit referendum.

The story was likely referring to comprehensive foreign policy guidelines currently being developed by Federica Mogherini, the EU's top foreign policy representative. Mogherini's draft text includes ideas aimed at exploring stronger joint European defense efforts. Originally, she was scheduled to present her draft text in the coming days, but the presentation has been pushed back to June 24 due to British sensitivities regarding common EU defense efforts.

The European Commission immediately denied the Times report and said that the EU's new foreign and defense strategy does not include plans for the creation of an EU army.

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Harold Rogers 05/27/2016
1. So they were making plans for a European Army!
What contorted logic is this article? So the European Commission denied reports about a European army but hid any secret discussions and denied any debate as usual. This is that unelected body which Britain wants to leave isnt it? What a farce!
Inglenda2 05/27/2016
2. There are two simple ways to stop a Brexit:
(1) Replace the undemocratic European commission with a, from the people elected, advisory board (2) Return to national sovereignty within a co-operative association of individual states. An EU in its current form is bound to fail, not only because of the wretched leadership, but also because it has a common currency, without the necessary harmony of social services and taxes. Should a netto payer, which Britain is, go, many others will follow because the Germans alone would be unable to pay all the waste being caused by ludicrous policies. Those countries which have grown used holding out their hands, would then have no reason to remain members.
Iwantout 05/27/2016
3. Making the same mistakes
Why are so many things being put off until after the 23RD June if there is nothing to worry about? Either the EU is or is not considering "stronger joint European defence efforts", budgetary changes new regulations on toasters etc etc. Such matters should be made apparent to UK voters before the vote. Failure to do so is exactly the sort of issue which has caused so much UK distrust of the EU, we are told one thing and then discover that actually matters are not as we were told. Then you wonder why the UK is so euroskeptic? All that is happening is that you are storing up yet more anger even in the event of a Remain vote.
qqqqqjim 05/27/2016
4. Academic Argument
This article is completely specious. All the prediction markets and betting houses show the 'stay' vote to be an overwhelming lock.
NogginTheNog 05/28/2016
5. Dubious Reporting?
"Those in favor of Britain's departure from the EU have begun resorting to dubious reports in their effort to win over voters." As regards this "unbiased" editorial comment I would point out that dubious, negative reporting has been at the heart of the Remain campaign. The "Great and the Good" have been rolled out - Obama, Legarde (IMF), Bank of England, G7 leaders - the list is endless, all primed by PM David Cameron with speculative data to warn of the dire consequences of a Brexit. £10 million pounds was spent by the Government on a propaganda booklet sent to every home in the UK. Apparently each household will be over £4,300 per year worse off 14 years' time - this projection is from a Treasury that can't predict what's going to happen in 14 months never mind 2030. How about that for dubious reporting? We have also been told a Brexit will result in 820,000 jobs being lost, house prices collapsing, pensions falling and war in Europe could break-out. The fear message presented as facts is unending. And yet only last November Cameron is on record saying: "Some people seem to say that really Britain couldn't survive couldn't do ok outside the European Union, I don't think that is true." Now he is predicting Armageddon. And Spiegel's recent reporting of the suppression of EU reports until after the referendum as they may cause embarrassment to the Remain campaign, and the muzzling EU leaders in case they cause a backlash (and they would) is further proof of the complete lack of democratic process orchestrated by the establishment. I don't recall Spiegel suggesting such contempt for the UK public as being "dubious". It is probable Remain will win (perhaps by 55% / 45%), but using fear has sown bitter seeds that will inevitably reap a harvest in the future, both for the UK and EU.
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