Niccolo Milanese (TalkReal chair) introduces the debate hosted by openDemocracy in London:
The UK referendum on EU membership coming up on June 23 is a potentially momentous historic occasion. It’s the first time in a generation that British citizens and Commonwealth citizens will have the right to decide if they stay in the European Union. It will clearly have effects for people in the UK for generations, for British people living in the rest of Europe and for Europeans living in the UK.
It could also have serious consequences for the future of the United Kingdom itself which may break up if the UK were to vote to leave; Scotland could subsequently secede from the United Kingdom and one could imagine the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would also be thrown into question.
But beyond the impact on British people, the referendum is situated in a space of debate about the future of Europe itself: should Europe be understood basically as a single market? Is the European Union a neoliberal construction?
Should it just impose regulation but have very little say from the citizens and very little democracy? Or should Europe instead be understood as a progressive space of social justice, of transnational democracy, perhaps of peace in the world?
We discuss this and more with Ulrike Guérot, founder and director of the European Democracy Lab, Federico Campagna, writer, philosopher and rights manager at Verso Books, Marina Prentoulis, from Syriza London and Another Europe Is Possible, and James Schneider from Momentum.
One thing is clear: the broad battle about the future of Europe goes well beyond the options on the referendum voting paper. The UK vote itself is situated in an ongoing continental debate about the future of how we’re going to live together in this European continent.