Unless the UK rethinks its veto (unlikely because of the political pressures on Cameron) it will become an outsider with an interest in the euro’s survival for its economic health, but now a rule-taker not maker. It failed to attract allies at the summit or since.
Increasingly, too, continentals see Britain as a potential subverter of the euro, as its political culture of absolute parliamentary sovereignty reinforced by a more and more vocal Euroscepticism affects its internal as well as its external affairs. English and Conservative Euroscepticism feed Scottish nationalism and may hasten support for independence there (notwithstanding Scotland’s own strong band of EU sceptics).
If that happened Ireland would face large decisions about the possible consequences for Irish reunification. This is not wishful thinking but rational and prudent thinking ahead based on real possibilities now talked about more openly in Britain itself.
All this reinforces the need for a coherent and up-to-date Irish policy towards Britain, above and beyond the existing one based on better relations and the Northern Ireland peace process.
We need smarter alliances with other smaller EU states to ensure the deepening euro zone is not dominated by Germany and France but balanced by common institutions. The UK does not share these interests. The values it shares with Ireland on tax and neoliberal policies will be less influential. And those who oppose the fiscal compact here need to answer hard questions about where an Irish rejection of it in a referendum would position this state – in renewed isolation with Britain?
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