London, 23rd of June 2016 – Downing Street n.10: London is a euphoric city. Taxis, trucks, and crazy car horns, in front of the headquarters of Her Majesty’s Government and the official residence and office of the First Minister.
The “Leave” campaign has officially won, the United Kingdom decided to leave the EU, and after the most rainy day I remember in 10 years, today London is incredibly sunny. I am here to experience live this moment that no one had expected to arrive with such strength. However, by talking with many simple people, the feelings of bother and anger towards the European Union were palpable, and I felt it from the inside.
In addition, the colleagues and the Organisations became during the years, more closed and less collaborative, I would say more annoyingly conceited, and establishing a partnership in London is becoming a job day by day more difficult. This is not the case of Scotland, where there is another spirit and in fact, the “Remain” campaign won.
No one explained to people from Cornwall, which now regret the way they had voted, that many exemplar social initiatives are based on European funding (214 million of pounds for the English non-profit). The non-profit slept standing up during the referendum and it now realises to be cut out from the European funding and projects.
It is for the young population that I feel sorrier- for example, the Erasmus programme won’t be possible anymore. However, alternatives will be found. The Kingdom will be able to get through it- as it got through the Nazi bombing and when it recovered with years in advance from the big recession in 2008-, it will hold on and it will win this challenge as well.I am afraid that this will happen in random order, as Brexit could lead to the breakup of the U.K. Scotland, at this point, is already thinking to leave the UK and to adhere independently to the EU. London as well asks for the independence…..from the United Kingdom to the Kingdom of the farce?
As in Italy, people say that “the Euro has ruined us!” and they are not that wrong. The Eurosceptics have got a lot of reasons. The thing that surprised me more is that the main topics of talks were about capitals and regulations, but no one has mentioned the European dream and the value of our common history and belonging.
When we forget the past we stop dreaming the future, when policies and bureaucracy replace the boost, it is the end. Brussels and National Governemnts also pay for a huge communication problem, for not being able to transmit the good things that have been done, and the feeling of “being European” today.
Changing the European leadership, it has to be elected and less self-referential. Reformulating the own ‘value proposal’, with a detailed communication, with a change in the narration and starting from a positive storytelling on all the many advantages, governmental and personal, of being part of the Union. Now in Europe, there is large portion, ‘left’ as well, that pushes to limit the use of a referendum on such complex and counterfeited subjects. I agree in raising the quorum and majorities, but the problem of the incoming populism is that if it is kept outside the window (referendum) at the end it will break down the door, maybe by winning the elections (risk in Austria, France, Italy and in the USA) At the base, there is always more an anti-system rejection, from the outskirts in broader terms (as for example the English and American internal areas, of a city- see Rome for example, of marginal citizenship- citizens that feel excluded, to be irrelevant), this cannot be deactivated with limitations in the vote, but with a cultural and territorial programme. This is where the non-profit has to play its role fully.
If the European Union has collapsed, maybe it is a good opportunity to rebuild Europe!
Marco Crescenzi, London, 23-6-2016