On Friday 24 June, 52% of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. After our first reaction we organised a webinar in order to answer some of our members’ interrogations concerning the impact for the European Civil Society and for our confederation. The online discussion titled “Consequences of Brexit: What does it mean? How should we react?” took place Thursday 30 June.
We were joined by four speakers who shared different perspectives on how to deal with these new challenges:
- Johannes Trimmel – President, CONCORD Europe
- Kathleen Spencer Chapman – Head of Policy and Public Affairs, BOND, UK NGO platform
- Dr. Christine Hackenesch – Team Lead ‘EU Policies for Global Development’, German Development Institute
- Adrian Bebb – Food, Agriculture and Biodiversity Programme, Friends of the Earth Europe
The hour-long webinar was moderated by Seamus Jeffreson, CONCORD Director. CONCORD members were invited to take part by posting their comments and questions in a chat box.
Find the full video below:
WHAT TO REMEMBER FROM THE DISCUSSION?
Our speakers began by explaining the referendum’s result itself. Notion of independence, sovereignty, taking back control, issue of immigration are as many reasons as heard the days following the vote and brought into the discussion. Adrian Bebb also referred to the importance of being self-critical and thinking about the role civil society played or could have played during the referendum.
Do we do too much EU bashing rather than giving space to the benefits of being in such a union? – Adrian Bebb
The political and economical impacts on CSOs and the necessity to work together within sectors were the two main challenges addressed during this discussion.
IMPORTANCE TO WORK TOGETHER
- One of the main outcomes of this discussion is the importance to work together across sectors. CSOs are already gathering together to find solution and action.
- Even though the referendum result has been a huge wake up call for civil society across the whole of Europe, our speakers also see this situation as an opportunity to build the Europe of the future that we want – we need to champion our issues altogether. Adrian Bebb also pointed out the importance for Civil Society to reclaim space and he highlighted the dangerous tone of the debate following the referendum.
POLITICAL AND ECONOMICAL IMPACTS ON CSOs
- Economic impact on CSOs: the fall in the value of currency lead to questions over donations from private donors and foundations. It had also been mentioned that without the UK, the EU lose a heavyweight in development, which spends 50 billion euros in aid annually.
- Political impact: the UK also has a strategic influence in shaping development policy. Kathleen Spencer Chapman precised that even though the British Department for International Development (DFID) specified the UK is part of the EU until it is not, no one really knows how that will play out politically.
Our speakers reminded us to stay focus on two important EU processes, the European Consensus on Development and the Global Strategy.
On top of these two issues our speakers all mentioned the need to engage citizens. We need to strengthen values within Europe to work overseas.
Seamus Jeffreson concluded by pointing out that CONCORD new strategy is more relevant than ever as it is taking us in this direction by working on these challenges through our thematic work hubs and committees.
Here is the full report of this webinar reflecting the comments, question and perspectives of this interesting conversation:
A few articles and blogposts that might give you a better understanding of the situation:
- A few days before the referendum, our President, Johannes Trimmel, gave his first ideas and answers on how Europe’s and UK’s global impact on development could be weakened by Brexit in Devex.
- The CEO of Bond (UK national platform), Ben Jackson’s message to his members and some excellent links to articles written by different NGOs.
- Our President’s and Director’s reaction after the results “CONCORD reaction to the UK Referendum results“
- Seamus Jeffreson, our Director, and Geneviève Pons, Director of WWF Europe, have written an article in Euractiv “Putting people and planet first in the EU“.
- Finally – Bond campaigner Tom Baker’s lessons for campaigners.