The recent renegotiation of the EU deal for the UK sparked a heated debate, in the midst of coffee-induced fiery talks in Brussels.
The musketeers of Europe, namely Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, despite only being two, ferociously defended their integrationist ideals by trying to reach a settlement with a straddled Mr Cameron.
From the continental side of the channel, it seems a very peculiar and cavalier idea that the UK, who already enjoys a special status within the Union, would dare to renegotiate its deal.
Indeed, having one foot in and one foot out already, EU defenders argue that the UK sells more stuff and sits at more tables than it would did it not have this status.
Moreover, the very fact that Cameron is able to gather dozens of officials for what university students would call two all-nighters to discuss the politics of a single country when the EU is on the brink of collapse on so many other issues clearly demonstrates the UK’s power within the Union.
Mr Cameron declared on the 19th of February, before details of the agreement were revealed, that he had secured the best deal for its citizens and that it ultimately came down to the people to opt in or out.
Pro-European hard-liners like your columnist refuse to abandon the ideal of European integration, especially in times where humanitarian crises are taking place at the doors of the Union, putting nations’ ability to stand together rather than selfishly act as realist actors at threat.
An “amicable divorce” between the UK and the EU would endorse the failed efforts of individuals to understand the insular British culture, which is so close yet at times so outlandish from continental Europe– having dinner at 5pm after a day spent wearing flip flops despite the temperature approaching polar levels, like really?
However, one must not forget that the initial paradigmatic ambition of the European alliance was to prevent countries from going to war.
Even if it has been famously argued that democracies do not wage war between one another (inter alia by de Tocqueville, once again a continental European), and that the prospect of an intra-EU war seems inconceivable, the willingness of the UK to renegotiate the terms of the contract could be a manifestation of a chauvinistic inward retreat of nations in period of distress and insecurity.
The long-term decay of the ability of societies to cohere has been severely shaken by a multiple of factors: the 2008 economic crisis, the threat of terrorism, the rise of far-right political parties are both causes and consequences of the lack of a general social project that would encompass all generations, ethnicities and classes into a grand nation (and union?) building project.
This may sound like a hopelessly optimistic pamphlet in favour of the European union, but it will ultimately be down to the people to choose their destiny.
The enlightened knowledge of what may lie ahead if the UK opts out must not be forgotten, as it is not only in terms of the advantages of EU ideals that will vanish.