Do you want to be a rule-taker or a rule-maker? That was the key question facing small countries/states deciding whether to join the EU or not highlighted by our expert panel in our latest webinar and their own answer was, unsurprisingly, the latter.
More than 150 attendees heard Michael Mann, ex-EU ambassador to Iceland and now EU special envoy for Arctic Matters, explain why a nation of 300,000 fiercely independent Icelanders have decided to stay out (but be in the European Economic Area) – and retain their own currency despite the huge support for the euro in practice. (The Icelandic krona is the second smallest currency in the world after the Seychelles rupee).
He was joined forces by our old friend, Kirsty Hughes, director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations, and Prof Michael Keating, director of the Centre on Constitutional Change, who both explained how EU membership can extend a small state’s influence in the world and provide a buffer against external shocks such as financial crisis or CO)VID-19. Prof Keating was blunt: Scotland could have more influence inside the EU than inside the UK.
You can listen to/watch their wide-ranging and insightful debate (if you missed it and/or wish to see it again) here. Our next webinar, chaired by EMiS vice-chair David Clarke, is scheduled for May 24 when we will discuss why Ireland has punched well above its weight inside the EU with former Irish taoiseach John Bruton, political scientist Brigid Laffan and RTE Europe Editor Tony Connelly. Unmissable.