EU referendum expert available for media commentary

Issue date: 24 March 2016


Dr Gunter Walzenbach

Dr Günter Walzenbach, a political scientist from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is available for media commentary during the lead up to the EU referendum.

An expert in comparative European politics and EU external relations, Gunter says that the key elements that we need to consider centre on business opportunities, trade relations and the performance of the economy; freedom of movement between member countries; and overarching foreign policy considerations.

Günter says, “Polarisation of opinion between politicians within each political party and strong opinions coming from economic leaders is making the choice more complicated and this tension is likely to rise in coming weeks.

“If Brexit happens Britain will need to draw up individual trade agreements with each country with which it does business or fall back to the general rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“It will take at least two years to leave because the Lisbon treaty contains specific provisions to ensure that the exit is done in an orderly way.

“50% of all UK exports are to the EU and there is a serious risk that uncertain trade rules will have an impact on investment decisions and jobs.

“Broad generalisations around immigration issues are muddying the agenda. It is important to take a qualified view on the consequences of the freedom of movement within and between individual EU countries. The debate around the current refugee crisis, for example, should be kept separate from the debate related to the freedom of movement for EU citizens seeking employment within the Single Market.

“The conflict in Syria, for example, is a major disaster for an unprecedented number of people and a scenario that the governments of the European Union try to address by acting together. It has, however, been very difficult to speak with one voice on this particular foreign policy issue. The EU with the UK included has been a force for good in the world acting through international organisations such as the United Nations. Institutions like the EU are pivotal in providing powerful voices that help to tackle tragic situations of this magnitude, mediate in complex peace negotiations and dealing with major international crises.”

Dr Walzenbach is available for comment between now and the referendum on Thursday 23 June 2016.

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