Dr. Max Schweizer, Foreign and Economic Affairs Advisor, Lecturer, and Researcher and Former Swiss Diplomat will discuss Brexit, looking into the historical relations between Great Britain and continental Europe.
SPEAKER: Dr. Max Schweizer, Foreign & Economic Affairs; Advisory – Lectures – Research
TOPIC: Brexit – the End of “Regionalism” in Europe? Observations of a Former Swiss Diplomat
TIME: Tuesday, October 18, 2016
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
PLACE: Room 325 Brooks Hall.
ABSTRACT: Great Britain’s 2016 decision to leave the EU shocked not only Europe but also the world. Never before has a member country decided to exit this regional integration project. Thus, Great Britain’s new policy brings along challenges the EU has never faced before. Most questions regarding the Brexit remain unanswered. To understand this challenge, a look into the historical relations between Great Britain and continental Europe is indispensable.
Great Britain joined the European Economic Community (ECC), a predecessor of today’s EU, in 1973. Before that, she initiated the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) dating back to 1960. Only one year later (1961) she tried (!) to initiate membership negotiations with the EEC, while EFTA partners were neither informed nor consulted. Now, more than 43 years after having joined the European integration project, she decides to leave.
The Brexit hurts the ‘European peace project’ both materially and regarding its prestige. Not only is Great Britain the second largest EU economy but also the second largest budget contributor (“net payer”).
The Brexit negotiations are supposed to start “before the end of March 2017.” This is the deadline set by the new British Prime Minister Theresa May. Until then, she promised to symbolically “press the button” (Art. 50, Lisbon treaty) triggering the exit discussions. Article 50 provides a 24 month time frame to find practical solutions.
The Brexit challenge is substantial – but only one of the EU’s multiple problems. Yet, the European history after WWII is proof of the continent’s extraordinary problem-solving capacity. Will it work once more?
BIOGRAPHY: Dr. Schweizer received his doctorate in geography from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He holds an honorary doctorate from the Technical University of Kaunas, Lithuania and is a Visiting Professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, Zhuhai. He spent more than 30 years as a diplomat in the Swiss foreign service, raising to the rank of Minister. He was Deputy Permanent Representative of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA) at the Permanent Mission of Switzerland in Geneva to the WTO (World Trade Organization), EFTA (European Free Trade Association) and UNCTAD. During his career Minister Schweizer was posted as Swiss diplomat to South Africa, Saudi-Arabia, Turkey, Finland, Baltic States, and Spain. Drawing on his experiences and expertise, he has published numerous books and has taught in the area of Foreign Affairs and Applied Diplomacy at the School of Management and Law at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Winterthur. He is, therefore, in a privileged position to comment on the changing economic-legal landscape in Europe and the rest of the world, including some of its regional implications.