I wouldn’t quite say I am for it, and I still wouldn’t myself have done it, but the decision is no longer looking like such a mistake. Since 2016, in matters of defense, Covid control, and migration, the EU has been anything but stellar. Here is the link to my Bloomberg column on this topic. Here is one excerpt:
Then there is the rise of illiberalism in Hungary, and to a lesser extent Poland, which is perhaps the EU’s biggest problem right now. The EU is seeking to withhold aid from those nations for weakening their independent judiciaries, and they are in turn threatening to veto the union’s $2.2 trillion budget and recovery package, which requires unanimous support. In response, the EU is considering approving that package outside its normal procedures.
More likely than not, a compromise will be found. But you have to wonder how long a well-functioning EU can tolerate a non-free nation such as Hungary. The EU certainly does not appear on the verge of kicking Hungary out (Germany, for one, would not welcome such a move, given its strong interests in Eastern Europe). But the challenges to the EU model presented by nations such as Hungary are much worse than they were in 2016, when the Brexit referendum was held.
Even if the EU succeeds in pushing Hungary around — and I hope it does — it is not necessarily a good outcome for the U.K. Such a policy would require weakening the EU’s unanimity requirements on many decisions, and that is something the U.K. should feel uncomfortable about. If Hungary can be pushed around, so can the U.K.
Finally, southeast England is emerging as a global technology center, especially in artificial intelligence and biomedical research. That’s great news for the U.K. But how does it square with the EU’s long-term pursuit of tougher regulations on tech companies, higher privacy standards for platforms and apps, and more stringent regulations on AI algorithms?
Will the U.K. find its interests represented by such a process? Will it be able to develop AI innovations and products without requiring prior permission from Brussels?
Of course we do still need to worry about Ireland, but perhaps this will end up being a nudge in the right direction…