May’s address sets off worry over disintegration of EU

By Su Tan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/17 22:28:39

In her Tuesday address that had gathered a huge amount of coverage, British Prime Minister Theresa May gave more clarity to her Brexit plan and dismissed a "half-in, half-out" deal with Brussels. Her address has reinforced our worry that globalization is in retreat in the EU.

Although May said a clean break from the EU "was not a decision to turn inward and retreat from the world," it will definitely exert a lasting impact or even cause a ripple effect on the remaining 27-member bloc.

The EU has gone through a long and difficult year, grappling with the Greece debt crisis, the Brexit vote, Italy's constitutional referendum, rising terrorism and an influx of refugees that continues to rattle the continent. But the new year doesn't herald anything better for the EU, since it will see three important elections against a backdrop of rising populism. 

In the Dutch general elections due on March 15, French presidential elections in May and German general elections in September, the chances are high that right-wing parties in the countries will gain the upper hand or win power. As the three countries account for 56 percent of the eurozone economy and are among the EU founders, their election results have much bearing on the bloc's future trajectory. 

Britain's exit suggests that the EU is apparently losing its appeal and is confronted with severe challenges of disintegration. Just a week before the Brexit vote in June, Switzerland withdrew its long-standing application to the EU. And in a recent interview, US President-elect Donald Trump said bluntly that the UK's exit from the EU is a sign of things to come and "more countries will leave."

EU skeptics argue that the integration is of little help in improving employment and creating prosperity. However, the problem doesn't stem from globalization, rather it resulted from the EU's worsening competitiveness. To that end, the EU needs to be united to promote globalization, not close the door.

The EU, unnerved and worried, seems to be aware of the looming crisis. During the 2017 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos that started Tuesday, specific topics were set for participants to discuss the EU's future after Britain's exit and fixing the EU's disunity.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the opening plenary in Davos on Tuesday, simply attributing many of the problems troubling the world to economic globalization doesn't conform to reality or help find a solution.

Globalization is the only solution for all of us to develop. The retreat from the EU will cast a shadow over developing countries. At a time when the world is seeing expanding fears of globalization, the EU, which has been and is still an important driving force of globalization, has to be united to promote globalization.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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