Leadership (Abuja)

8 February 2013

Nigeria: EU Without UK?

editorial

The United Kingdom is posting signals that she wants to renegotiate her membership of the European Union, 40 years after her entry into the European Economic Community. Prime Minister David Cameron has already hinted at a referendum before the elections in 2015 for British citizens to decide whether they want to remain in the EU or not.

The development is a throwback to the Thatcher years when the then prime minister objected to the European Community, but, this time round, the implications portend economic danger. The UK is the fourth largest trading partner to both Germany and France; it boasts the second largest economy in the EU.

Major economic players in the UK are convinced that the anti-EU moves are being propelled by political rather than economic reasons. Half of British trade is conducted with EU nations. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is convinced that the UK stands to gain more by continuing to take advantage of the single market provided by the EU. Economic analysts have however pointed out that the EU will lose its stature if the UK pulls out. Finland's prime minister Jyrki Katainen said an EU without the UK was like "fish without chips".

The current arrangement is a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship and the reversal will hurt both the EU and the UK. Britain faces the risk of falling back into recession and losing its status as the financial capital of Europe while the EU may lose its clout with global bodies such as the World Trade Organisation.

Major investors have already openly declared that they will have to review their participation in the British economy if the country is no longer a member of the EU - and that is bad news for the UK in these economically challenging times. One analyst even went further to state that "without the EU, we're just Little England to Beijing and Delhi".

Cameron may just be playing mind games with the rest of Europe in the hope of grabbing more EU power for his country and making London the fulcrum around which the organisation revolves. If his calculation is that he could bypass the EU and make hay with China and the rest of Asia, he would find out the cold truth: the best route to Beijing may actually be Brussels.

EU is still the largest single market in the world. It is by being a member of this influential body that the UK can sustainably partner with China and India. If Cameron does not get the message and insists on dragging the UK out of the European Union, he may find out what African elders had known over the ages: that he who walks alone is both in front and behind.

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