Could The Younger Generation Rejoin The European Union?

In today’s article, Stockport Young Labour’s Sam Johnson questions the permanency of the Leave result in last year’s EU referendum and asks the question: could the younger generation rejoin the EU?

Is it time for the “lost generation” to make their stamp on history? A controversial idea in the title however an important question non the less.

Firstly, could the United Kingdom rejoin the European Union after it leaves in 2 years time. Well in theory yes, there are no clauses to join the EU that says you can’t have previously been a member. The question really is whether or not the EU would allow us to re-enter, which really is something else which I cannot answer because we are not talking about in three years time that we can just casually rejoin like it’s a gym membership that we’re going to use once, it is a long term application. In this made-up situation in my head, it would also be with the conditions that the British public would want to rejoin the EU only a year after exiting it, something that I don’t see happening. But let me run with this…

A country before join the European Union must adhere to the ‘Copenhagen Criteria’, which is the following:

  • “Stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;
  • A functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competition and market forces in the EU.
  • The ability to take on and implement effectively the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.”
  • (Taken from the Europa website.)

A country also seems like it must be able to integrate into the European Union geographically too. As a previous member we would most likely be abiding by this criteria so that is one stage complete. Then there will be a negotiation period in which we will set out things such as the UK contribution to the EU budget and how much we get back, as well as how the UK will adhere to EU law and policies. Now this once again will take a long time, not only that but there will lots of backwards and forward negotiations and the outcome may be that our membership is not like the position we are currently in.

The current Conservative government seems to be going for what is considered as a ‘hard brexit’ where we will leave most if not all institutions associated with the European Union, not staying with the European single-market, and not allowing freedom of movement. But others, including the official opposition respect the will of the 52% however want to remain a part of the single market, which even some leave campaigners said that we could still do. So would it be possible to re-enter the single-market, which may be easier? Well once again theoretically yes because Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein are all members of the European Economic Area (EEA) allowing freedom of goods between them and other EU countries, even though those countries specified are not members. However one of the main reasons for people voting to leave the European Union was suggested to be the freedom of movement of people, which members of the EEA currently have to abide by. Would the UK be able to get a different deal? Probably not.

So public opinion would have a massive impact on whether or not we would rejoin the European Union… I know Captain Obvious. But as I stated in the title, will it be our generation, the young ones, that brings us back towards European unity? Well short answer is an obvious yes, of course we could rejoin the EU, the things to consider are the timeline of events and the viewpoints of our generation. Due to the voting patterns between age groups during the EU referendum then most likely to rejoin this generation will either have to become a lot more politically active in voting or will have to wait for our older counterparts to pass away (I know, morbid!).

One other point about whether it would be our generation to take us back into the EU is that viewpoints can change, if the Conservative government create an absolute mess of Brexit then yes most likely we will feel insecure and want to rejoin the EU for the “good old glory days” feel. However if it turns out well, we will find members of our generation changing priorities because by the time it would be possible to rejoin the EU, what was the younger people will have started families and be wanting to stay in a secure position.

All this is based upon “what ifs” we don’t know what is going to happen. So really I think now we have to accept that Brexit is happening, how our generation makes best of that, how we develop better relations with the rest of the commonwealth, and how to create a different yet still effective relationship with the European Union.

Sam Johnson

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