With Emmanuel Macron saying the EU must change or face the prospect of Frexit, is the European Union unreformable?

Macron has warned over the prospect of Frexit (Source: Getty)

Hugh Bennett, deputy editor at BrexitCentral, says Yes.

Whether you’re an unrelenting eurofederalist or an unappeasable eurosceptic, you’re likely to agree on one thing – that the EU needs significant reform in one direction or another.

Whether that reform is actually possible is another matter indeed. Just ask our former Prime Minister.

Emmanuel Macron becomes the latest figure in a long line of pro-EU politicians to talk up the prospect of EU reform at the height of an election campaign. Nobody should be fooled by his claim that Frexit is on the table if he becomes President – Macron is as committed to the EU as they come. His Frexit threat is electioneering, plain and simple.

The EU has faced crisis after crisis in the past few years, from the economic misery wreaked on Southern Europe by the euro, to free movement and Schengen crumbling under the weight of the migration crisis. If the EU was ever going to reform, it would have done so already. Instead, it simply falls back on its one-size-fits-all cure for every problem – “more Europe”.

Dr Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg, says No.

Of course, the EU can adjust. It has often done so in the past.

The process of European integration has helped to underpin peace and prosperity in Europe for six decades. The EU has successfully integrated the post-communist economies of Eastern Europe. Over time, it granted the UK various opt-outs and special budget deals.

In response to the euro crisis, it developed new institutions which have helped to put growth back on track, slash the Eurozone fiscal deficit to half the UK shortfall, and turn former bailout countries Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus into fast-growing economies again.

Once the French and German elections are out of the way later this year, the EU will discuss new reforms. Many of these changes, including some further fiscal integration, may be confined to those members who want to go along rather than being mandatory for all. Letting “coalitions of the willing” go ahead will make the EU more flexible than it used to be.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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