EU Brexit debate Patrick Hertzog | Getty Images

Un puente británico para una Europa dividida

LONDRES – La Unión Europea nunca fue muy popular en Gran Bretaña. El país entró después, y el 23 de junio se preguntará a los votantes si quieren irse antes. Aunque el resultado del referéndum no es legalmente vinculante para el gobierno, si el veredicto de la opinión pública fuera favorable a la salida, la permanencia es inimaginable.

Con los años, el acento del debate británico sobre Europa fue cambiando de lugar. En los sesenta y setenta, la cuestión era si el país podía permitirse no entrar a lo que entonces era la Comunidad Económica Europea. Se temía que el Reino Unido quedara fuera del mercado de más veloz crecimiento del mundo, y que su asociación con Estados Unidos también corriera riesgo: la alianza occidental tendría dos pilares, y uno de ellos sería Europa, no una empequeñecida Gran Bretaña.

Hoy, lo que impulsa el debate en el Reino Unido no es el poder de Europa, sino su debilitamiento. Los británicos perciben que a su país le va bastante bien mientras a Europa le va mal. Desde la debacle de 2008, la UE ha sido sinónimo de fracaso. Fuera de Gran Bretaña y Alemania, casi no hubo crecimiento económico. El continente no puede defender sus fronteras de los terroristas (“Europa no es segura”, proclama Donald Trump). Sus instituciones carecen de legitimidad. Compuesta por 28 miembros cuasisoberanos, no puede actuar, solo declarar intenciones de hacerlo. No es extraño que haya en marcha una campaña para restituir soberanía al nivel nacional, donde todavía queda algo de poder de decisión.

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