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More EU-wide media coverage of Brexit referendum

Many EU media continue to widely comment on the UK’s EU referendum. Although most EU and US front-pages report on the murder of British Labour MP Jo Cox yesterday in West Yorkshire. Her attacker shouted “Britain first” before shooting and stabbing her. Jo Cox’s death caused deep shock across Britain and the suspension of campaigning for next week’s referendum.

A new Ipsos MORI poll for the Evening Standard shows that the Leave campaign continues to gather momentum, enjoying a large swing from its previous poll. The new survey puts Leave with 53% and Remain on 47%, with Remain down 10 points from the last poll and Leave up 10 points. As a consequence, most media continue to report that EU leaders are preparing for a possible Brexit. All UK media report that European Council President Donald Tusk said he had started talks with EU governments to agree a political and legal stance towards Britain if it votes to leave next week.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has vowed that a Brexit would not be allowed to endanger the wider EU, and promised deeper integration. “I don’t think the EU will be in danger of death if Britain leaves”, he said, quoted by The Times. “We will continue the process of closer cooperation in Europe, if not of deepening the EU, and mainly the economic and monetary union.” Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union would be a huge challenge rather than a catastrophe, says European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, quoted by Zinius Radijas. “The European Commission must start preparing for different scenarios. Our goal is to analyse outcomes, whatever they are.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Britain that if it leaves, it won’t be able to benefit from Europe’s single market. Eurozone finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg urged British voters to consider the benefits of EU membership and praised the UK’s influence in the EU. According to CYBC TV’s Brussels correspondent, if the UK chooses to remain in the EU, the new settlement for the UK in the EU, as agreed last December, will be implemented. In the case of a Brexit vote, however, the EU Treaty provides for two years to negotiate the exit while no other negotiations are expected to take place.

In his column for Les Echos, Eric Le Boucher considers that, in case of a vote in favour of Brexit, “French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will do nothing but speak nice words. ECB President Mario Draghi will be the first to lead from the front by saying, as usual, that he will do ‘whatever it takes’ to save the single currency.” “The French and German leaders…will discuss their unwavering determination to strengthen the European construction’s democratic nature,” he adds.

Despite the questions raised by the latest polls, EU leaders try to remain optimistic. The European Union will not be “in danger of death” if Great Britain leaves the EU, stated President Juncker yesterday, adding that the process of closer cooperation would continue in Europe, writes. According to The Mail Online, European Commission Günther Oettinger has suggested that a Brexit could be good for the EU because it would allow Brussels to gain more “power and strength,” nevertheless expressing concerns about the fact that a Brexit vote would have a “domino effect or knock-on effect,” pointing to Denmark and Holland as eurosceptic countries that could follow Britain out of the EU exit door.

Jacques Julliard suggests, in his editorial for Marianne, four ideas to implement in case of Brexit, such as preparing “the conditions for a Franco-German alliance thanks to a strong economic recovery” and to “quickly” make this alliance “a common sovereignty zone.” “The Brexit is not an end. If we want, it can be a beginning,” he concludes.EU media also continue to raise concerns about the economic impact of a Brexit. The Bank of England has again warned that a Brexit risks hitting economic growth, pushing sterling lower and sending shock-waves through the global economy, British media report.

Leave campaigners criticised the warning, and accused the Bank of England of failing to offer a “fair analysis” of the potential impact of a Brexit. The IMF has also warned that a Brexit would result in a “negative and substantial” hit to the economy, “permanently lower incomes” and harm the economies of other European states. Writing in The Guardian, Andrew Graham argues that while voters’ cynicism about economists’ predictions is understandable, it is a “fantasy” that Britain could trade on its own terms with the EU following a Brexit, and there will be an associated economic cost.

According to The Wall Street Journal Europe, the key issue is what would happen to firms’ “passports,” the instrument by which financial firms in one EU country are authorised to conduct business across the EU. The US daily adds that Commissioner Jonathan Hill said that without an agreement on UK firms’ passports “our banks, our investment firms and insurers could face new restrictions on cross-border business.” On the contrary, in an interview with Il Mattino, US economist Allen Sinai argues that while immediate effects of a Brexit “will not be pleasant,” in the long term the British economy could become more competitive than today.

Mikael Jalving comments in Jyllands-Posten that no matter the outcome of the British referendum next week, the European Union has already failed. El Mundo‘s Pablo R. Suanzes writes that the impact of Brexit on Europe is already “devastating” as the in-out referendum has torn apart the primitive notion that the European Union would always move forward towards greater integration, enshrined in the concept of “an ever closer union.”

In an editorial in Die Welt, Dorothea Siems fears that “exasperated” Northern European countries could follow the British example and withdraw from the EU. Writing in The Irish Independent, economist Ray Kinsella argues that a Brexit is the only event capable of forcing the EU to address the need to become more democratic and accountable.



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