On the 23rd, in two days, Great Britain is going to express its lawful opinion about whether remaining or leaving the European Union. Actually it is not the first time: in 1975 the 67% of the subjects chose to stay in the EEC. Hence, the main reasons standing behind the “Leave” party (mostly formed of UKIP and conservatives, among them Boris Johnson) is that in 40 years the EU changed a lot, in particular overwhelmingly dictating home policies: therefore determining economic, social and environmental disadvantages.
On the other side there is the “Remain” Party (among whom the prime minister, David Cameron), who put up a poor campaign, however arguing that EU stopped the race to the bottom in the standards of living not only in Great Britain and EU, but also in third countries.
Whatever is going to happen this is going to be shaping the future, analysts say.
If the British call a halt, negotiations would begin. Nobody is able to know now the conditions, because the referendum is strictly about the eventuality of Brexit, and not about its future scenarios: for instance, is GB going to stick to the EEA, anyhow?
This Grey zone is estimated to last at least two years. And still, if GB would want to be a EU commercial partner, then it would have nonetheless to respect a big part of its standards.
If the British are staying in, one of the hypothesis would be that then EU would become stronger and less subject to the historical English grumbles.
But how would Brexit affect the British and European environment?
Let’s pretend it is a reality: GB is not part of the EU anymore.
Firstly, as already said, GB would have still to watch after most of the existing regulations because of continuing commercial partnerships within the EU and of course because most of EU legislations are in the British code by now. The reign could be able to abrupt most of them, if it is its will, but still it will take time.
Furthermore GB would not receive its grants stemming from CAP or Horizon 2020.
And then? Some of leavers argue that environmental legislations are too strict and they cut off power from potential successful businesses. So, will the tendency be the one to return to the unattractive reputation of being “The dirty man of Europe”?
Because that was how Great Britain was known back in the 70s and 80s, having the highest sulphur dioxide emissions in the EU and their seas were akin to open sewers (Rose, 1990).
Then, how would the power in international negotiation change from UK perspective?
The issue here is that in the field of environmental protection and development, cooperation is fundamental as these problems are transnational and cross-boundary in nature.
As a result, two things are likely to occur: GB loses its power of saying, while EU could follow in this sad spiralling down, losing its status as Leader or, conversely, EU strengthening its position because having less oppositions in its formation.
Putting the pink glasses on, GB could catch the opportunity to break free from an excessive burden. For sure it will not receive any subsidies, but they will not even have to hand out any to nobody else. In this scenario the British could basically do whatever in their will to strengthen the national and successful Environmental Stewardship ( an agri-environmental scheme aiming to foster biodiversity with sustainable agri-practices) and move on with its world-leading research in the field.
As John Hillary put it ( an exponent of War on Want, a charity who fights against the root causes of poverty and human rights violation, as part of the worldwide movement for global justice) EU is not –or not anymore – a bunch of neoliberals with green and clean agendas- we are actually dealing with a “lobbied and competitive Europe”, which for instance approves TTIP and downgrades, as soon as possible, the Paris Agreements’ achievements with the recently happening of the Fuel Quality Directive.
What will happen…. nobody knows that. Most probably the theories illustrated are just random rambling speeches. However it is a very scary scenario because it is an impounded path.
Lets at least hope this path will be green.