Off the coasts of EuropeBrexit is the latest chapter in the long-running drama between the UK and the Continent. Many British people believe that their country is different from the rest of Europe. They say that Britain developed for hundreds of years as a separate entity, producing its own special and unique culture. They feel that even geographically Britain is not really part of Europe. This perception is so common, that some dictionaries, like the Collins Dictionary, have a special ‘British’ definition of the term ‘Europe’: ‘the continent of Europe except for the British Isles’. Yet history tells a more nuanced story: Britain was never fully isolated from European affairs. In the last century, for example, it participated in two World Wars on the Continent.
United in DiversityThe second of these conflicts, World War II, was so destructive that many European politicians wanted to find a way to maintain lasting peace in Europe. The EEC (later the EU) was their solution. The concept was simple: if countries co-operated and became dependent on each other, they would not fight any more. As Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during World War II, said: “We hope to see a Europe where men of every country will think as much of being a European as of belonging to their native land, and that without losing any of their love and loyalty of their birthplace.” The EU’s motto sums it up: ‘In Varietate Concordia’ – United in Diversity. The EU has been so successful in putting into effect its original intentions that in 2012 it received the Nobel Peace Prize for having ‘contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe’.
Britain at a crossroadSo why Brexit? Those that voted ‘leave’ in the referendum feel that the EU did more harm than good. Perhaps it ensured peace, but they claim that it also took away the right of the British people to govern themselves. They blame the EU for their social and economic difficulties. Leaving the Union, though, will not be a short and painless process. Britain will have to pay a ‘divorce bill’, and negotiations will go on for months (the UK will officially leave the EU in March 2019). The first phase, on the ‘principles of the divorce’, was concluded in October. The second, more complicated phase is starting now. Current British Prime Minister, Theresa May, finds herself in a difficult situation. She has to negotiate a deal with the EU, and then have the British Parliament approve it. But what if it rejects the deal? Nobody can say what will happen then. Certainly, the Brexit vote has caused great divisions within the UK. Most Scots (62%) voted to remain in the EU, and now they’re asking for a referendum to decide on whether or not Scotland should remain in the UK. There are similar talks in Northern Ireland. Could the Brexit vote, ultimately, lead to the end of Great Britain?
Useful links 1) Do you want to know more about every aspect of Brexit? Read this webpage: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-32810887 2) Do you want to know more about the EU? Check out this official webpage: http://europa.eu/kids-corner/index_en.htm …or watch these short videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywJS7swbqeE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fhbYuPT-rw 3) Do you know the member states of the EU? Take this quiz: https://online.seterra.com/en/vgp/3022 (Try the other quizzes on the same page. Guess European cities, capitals, flags…) 4) Look at this video about Scotland and its independence movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gqZiJEYRhI
COMPREHENSION 1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative. 1. A citizen of one EU country— (Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: EU2017EE, flickr and fernando butcher, flickr)
- cannot live in another EU country.
- can decide to work in another EU country.
- cannot work in another EU country.
- was a founding member of the EEC.
- is not the first nation to leave the EU.
- joined the EU when it was called the EEC.
- leave the EU.
- join the EEC.
- remain in the EU.
- part of Europe.
- off the coasts of Europe.
- Isolated from European affairs.
- absolutely true.
- totally false.
- thought that a united Europe was a good idea.
- gave the EU the Nobel Prize.
- founded the EU.
- after World War I.
- to promote peaceful relations between nations.
- to win the Nobel Prize.
- British people lost their love and loyalty for their birthplace.
- many British people felt damaged by the EU.
- the EU did not ensure lasting peace.
- is a long but cheap process.
- is a short but expensive process.
- is a long and expensive process.
- other countries joining the EU.
- Scotland leaving the UK.
- Scotland becoming part of the UK.