Numerous people saw the excellent attempt by some of our colleagues advocating against “Brexit” in a video encouraging British voters to vote for “Remain a member of the European Union” in the referendum of 23rd June. The effort was admittedly touching, the reactions positive, everyone congratulated the participants for the outstanding scenario and performance. Nevertheless, we forgot something; the addressees of this video were British voters and not the Europeans who want Britain to remain member of their family. After a considerable amount of time in the UK, and especially not in London, I have socialised with people coming from all the social classes and one thing was clear; Britons do not like non-British to tell them what to do. They differ a lot from other Europeans and if they remain in this family, it will be by their own free will and not because they were advised so by other people who suddenly “love” them before a referendum takes place. Therefore, with this article, I would like to prove that the best influence we could have on the Brits as the College of Europe would be to remain neutral and remind them of their power to decide alone for their future. In any case, this is what PM Cameron requested from the Commission when the referendum was announced and they respected that; the underlying reasons will be discussed in the following lines.
Firstly, doesn’t seem strange to you that there was not even a brochure, a video or a speech by the Commission on the Brexit debate? We are not used to Juncker remaining silent; may I remind you that before the referendum held in Greece in July 2015, Juncker organised an autonomous press conference to “tell the truth to Greek people”. Now what? Only silence, because he has given his word to Cameron. Cameron knew that every word from the President of the Guardian of the Treaties might mean a lost vote for Remain. I believe consequently that the College of Europe, being supposedly the most competent advocates of the European Project as a student community, is equally provocative to encourage Britons on their vote.
The second reason why Cameron requested absolute silence from the Commission is populism. The Commission’s fonctionnaires – the unelected bureaucratic mafia as I heard them being called – have the worst reputation among Britons. The British tabloids advocating for Brexit are champing at the bit to hear a word from a Brussels bureaucrat to misinterpret his words; every speech expressing the ever closer Union or touching their sovereignty is a prey for the tabloids to mislead voters. The few Britons who are familiar with the College of Europe think of two things; “home of Thatcher’s speech” and factory of “Eurocrats”. Despite that not everyone has the same opinion on the fonctionnaires in Britain, our views to the ears of undecided voters, bombarded daily from the tabloids, can be easily confused as those of Commission officials.
Finally, I want to highlight that the effort of the producers of this video was excellent and is a strong message against Brexit to everyone but, unfortunately, the Britons. It was not possible for them to know how the Brits think and this article is just a friendly reminder by a person who received education and will potentially work in this beautiful country. I really hope on 23rd June the news is good for all of us wanting the UK in our family.