David Cameron’s ideal EU: a new Hanseatic League?

hanza-map

Lors de son discours sur l’appartenance du Royaume Uni à l’Union Européenne prononcé en janvier dernier, David Cameron n’a pas seulement promis d’organiser un référendum s’il était réélu : il s’est également engagé à proposer de nouvelles relations entre son pays et l’Union, notamment sur le plan économique. Mais dans un contexte de crise où les pays du Sud de l’Europe ont particulièrement été touchés, celui-ci se montre de plus en plus enclin à organiser une alliance centrée uniquement sur les pays de la Mer du Nord et de la Baltique,  les pays se portant le mieux dans la zone euro.

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A Northern economic organization

During his “referendum speech”, David Cameron made it clear that the European Union was only a means and not an end for the UK, concerned only by the economic issues in the EU. Thus the new forms of relationship he promised to negotiate with the other EU members concern economic issues only. For him, Europe should be leaner and more competitive, but the situation of the poorest countries of the EU, also known as the P.I.G.S, is an obstacle to such improvement. The British government tries therefore to sketch a plan for a northern European economic integration, modeled after an old alliance called “the Hanseatic league”.

The Hanseatic League, (“Hansa” in German) was created in the XIIth century. Gathering merchant cites all around the North and the Baltic seas (from East Anglia to Estonia), the league was the most powerful corporation in Northern Europe during the Middle Ages. Even if it broke down in the middle of the XVIth century, the nongovernmental alliance created sustainable links between the Nordic European countries and developed a common view of business trading. It is this history the British government has been playing upon for months when negotiating with Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia and Finland. Such an alliance would obviously be to the economic but also diplomatic advantage of the UK. Actually, it could be a way both to better balance the powers between Brussels and London, and to give more importance to the United Kingdom.

Nonetheless, it is not sure that the other Nordic countries will be pleased or simply able to join this alliance.

Halimata NIANE & Mithula PANCHALINGAM

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