Interview With : Kevin Featherstone, Head of the London School of Economics (LSE) European Institute
Updated on: 30 Jun 2016
Kevin Featherstone is Head of the London School of Economics (LSE) European Institute. Speaking with TOI, Featherstone discussed Brexit, racism, Left, Right – and students caught between:
What does Brexit mean for the idea of Europe today?
Brexit creates a risk that the project of European unity, started after 1945, will unravel. Its origins lay in reconstruction and the Cold War – but the expansion from six to 28 EU member states meant that the motivations behind membership became ever more diverse: not one 'Europe' but multiple 'Europes' for different reasons.
The financial crisis of 2008 shook national politics – for the first time, rather than growth and modernity, the EU became synonymous with austerity and curtailed democratic choice.
Voters have been swayed by populist oppositions and anti-establishment personalities. These expose the fragile support base for the European project – it's not just a British problem when polls show 48% in France and Italy, both founder-members of the EU, would vote for their countries to exit. The EU's medium-term prospects depend on French and German elections next year. The most likely long-term outcome is an EU with more flexible and varied types of membership – but, i believe, it will sustain an inner core of members committed to closer economic integration and a shared political and social purpose.
Don't doubt the commitment of Germany to Europe and its ability to attract its closest neighbours to a common project. It won't be just 'back to the future' of six core countries – it'll be bigger and with a deeper integration, though it will follow the original post-1945 logic.
What happens to Greece now – and how likely is an exodus of EU-skeptic states?