After the Brexit vote: can the EU reform itself? (part 1)

Chancellor Merkel walks in front of media microphones
Bratislava, Sept. 16, 2016: German Chancellor Angela Merkel during an informal European Union summit to discuss strategy after the British vote to leave the union (source: dpa)

  • Brussels ignored previous signals of dissatisfaction with EU’s direction, especially the 2005 referenda in France and the Netherlands on the proposed European Constitution
  • The EU bureaucracy appears to be clueless on how to deal with a weak economy, undemocratic practices and an overcentralized, one-size-fits-all approach to integration
  • As a first step in the right direction, the reform deal reached with David Cameron before the Brexit vote should now be implemented

The September 12, 2016 State of the Union Address by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg, and the European Union’s informal summit in Bratislava soon after, were thick with calls for a new start, a new vision and a new narrative for the besieged EU. But at neither event was a plan unveiled.

A good solution, meanwhile, has existed since February, when it was approved by all 28 EU member states. It is the nearly forgotten deal that European Council President Donald Tusk reached with David Cameron, then prime minister of the United Kingdom.

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