The In/Out plebiscite on British membership of the European Union (EU) has prompted referendum fever across Europe with others demanding votes on various matters.
David Cameron has been meeting with other EU leaders in Brussels to discuss Eurozone stabilisation and the migrant crisis, but their tolerance of his Brexit referendum is wearing thin, reports The Daily Telegraph.
EU enthusiasts and Brussels bureaucrats have, other the years, become used to referendums taking place which ultimately change nothing. This is the case even when the result of the referendum rejects the EU line, such as the “No” votes in France, the Netherlands and Ireland to various treaties and reforms, albeit temporarily.
The reason for the disquiet this time is that, for once, a country’s membership of the EU itself is on the line. According to one British minister fellow EU members consider the U.K. government “insane” as they “hate the idea of a referendum and are irritated [the U.K.] forced the issue.”
In part this is because the EU bureaucracy fears the spread of referendum fever across Europe, a fear which is not unfounded and may hamper David Cameron’s renegotiation efforts. If demands for treaty reform in Britain’s favour are met, the argument goes, radical parties will then demand their own bespoke deals destroying EU solidarity.
Denmark’s recently-elected government has already cited Britain as an “inspiration”, before negotiations have really started and long before any actual vote. They have their own EU referendum in December which was said to be “unrealistic or hypothetical” before British actions lent it credibility. Although it is a rather technical one regarding opting into European justice powers, there is a strong chance that in Danish voters’ eyes it will become their own verdict on EU membership.
Demands for referendums are being made in the Netherlands (on EU foreign policy regarding Ukraine), Poland (on adoption of the Euro), Finland (on leaving the Euro) and Austria (an In/Out referendum is being mooted by the anti-mass migration Freedom Party).
Thierry Baudet, the head of the Forum of Democracy think tank, told the Telegraph:
“More and more people are beginning to doubt the European Union, and in that sense the British referendum is ground-breaking, because it makes it imaginable to leave.”