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Stay and reform the EU is easier said than done

Views on Brexit from Dr Michael HolmesIan James,Christopher RaingerYugo KovachPatrick Cosgrove andDerrick Cameron

 The European parliament in Strasbourg. Photograph: Patrick Seeger/EPA

I share Gary Younge’s assessment of Brexit (Opinion, 9 March) and the EU when he says, “I wish we hadn’t left; I wish it were much better”. The referendum highlighted that there are two rather dysfunctional unions, the European one and the UK. But there are two significant obstacles to reform of the EU. First, while there is wide agreement that it needs to change, there is no consensus as to what form that should take. Some call for more powers for the parliament, some for more powers for the council, or for a greater role for national parliaments, or for the use of EU-wide referendums – ideas that pull in very different directions.

Second, the structures of the EU make it difficult to engineer meaningful reforms. Once a treaty has been agreed, it becomes very difficult to amend or alter it at all – there are hardly any examples of a change in policy direction in the EU. What is needed at this stage is the development of a Europe-wide progressive alliance to create a consensus about how best to democratise the EU and shift its policy priorities away from the dominant conservative orthodoxy, and how to promote broad values of social solidarity among the peoples of Europe. It’s a difficult path to travel on, but a very necessary one.
Dr Michael Holmes
Director, European Institute, Liverpool Hope University

 I don’t think anyone would disagree with Gary Younge that there is a democratic deficient at the heart of the EU. A deeper, more federated Europe would shift power in favour of the elected parliament. With more real independent powers, the elected parliament would be much more relevant and accountable to its electorate. Undue influence of individual states would be constrained. A federated UK works and, despite squeals from the home counties, under the Barnett formula south-east England bankrolls the rest of the UK. Likewise, a strong, democratically elected parliament would have inflicted far less pain in nursing the Greek economy back to health, despite German squeals of protest.
Ian James
Liss, Hampshire

 I’ve been thinking for a while that the only reason Theresa May wants to lead the torturous Brexit process is that she is following a path which she knows will end in failure – and with the UK remaining in Europe, as she always wanted.
Christopher Rainger

 We now know you can buy your way into the UK by purchasing a Cypriot passport or one from Malta (Russian oligarch gets Cypriot passport – and EU citizenship, 3 March). We also know that the route into the UK for Moldovans is an easily acquired Romanian passport. Ditto for Bosnian Croats, via Zagreb. Then there is the amnesty granted by the Spanish government to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants, the first step towards Spanish citizenship and the right to reside anywhere in the EU. Spain also freely hands out citizenship to Latin Americans.

Competence with regards to the status of non-EU individuals lies with the 27 member states, not the European Union. Combine this with the free movement accord, and the result is a chaotic free-for-all. There will have to be an EU policy on non-EU immigrants as well as asylum seekers, amnesties and passport policy. There is an inevitability about an ever closer political union.
Yugo Kovach
Winterborne Houghton, Dorset

 If Airbus is in decline due to falling demand, with thousands of redundancies planned for factories in Bristol, Seville, Bremen and Augsburg, shouldn’t the EU be considering tariffs on US planes as well as Levi jeans and Harley-Davidson motorcycles?
Patrick Cosgrove
Bucknell, Shropshire

 My French teacher at school claimed that all good things in French are feminine. Admittedly, this did include a submachine gun (une mitraillette), but does that explain why it’s le Brexit?
Derrick Cameron



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