Timothy Garton Ash: From Outside, it's Clear Why Britain Has To Stay in Europe

Roundup: Historians' Take

Timothy Garton Ash is a historian, political writer and Guardian columnist. 

So now we know: Europe will be roiled by internal turmoil for another five years. While Germany, France and others wrestle to build a stronger core Europe around the eurozone, David Cameron's Conservatives, if elected in 2015, will try to renegotiate the terms of Britain's membership in the whole EU club and then put that "new settlement" to the British people in an "in or out" referendum by the end of 2017.
World, you have been warned. Europe as an economic giant? Yes, still. Europe as a strong force in a new multipolar world? Postponed to the Greek calends – and now to the British ones as well. Whether you are watching from India, China, Russia, America or Brazil, you can forget that prospect for the foreseeable future. In fact, most people in those countries already have.
But first, what of the speech itself? Well, it could have been a lot worse. As a pro-European who has argued that Britain should hold an "in or out" referendum in the next parliament, once the shape of eurozone-Europe and the results of any attempted renegotiation of the terms of Britain's membership are known, I can hardly complain if the British prime minister plumps for exactly that. While much of the phrasing was patently crafted to please Eurosceptics, some of his criticisms of today's EU are also justified...

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