Unless handled with great care, Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will accelerate Europe’s decline. That’s the message from the prologue to Slippery Slope: Brexit and Europe’s Troubled Future, a book by Giles Merritt, founder and Chairman of our sister think-tank, Friends of Europe.

Is Merritt right sound the alarm about Europe’s decline? Will a new economy based on changing technology and the rise of Asia bring about a weakening of Europe’s place in the world? And is there anything we can do to arrest our journey down the slippery slope?

Debating Europe is excited to announce the launch of our book club – a chance to put your questions and comments to authors from across the globe!

Each month, we will pick a different book and interview its author, and put questions and comments to them from our readers on the topic of the book.

Our inaugural book of the month for April will be “Slippery Slope: Brexit and Europe’s Troubled Future” by Giles MerrittIn his book, Giles Merritt argues that Brexit has hastened Europe’s decline, as rapidly-developing economies from Asia, to Latin America, to Africa shift the global balance of power.

To halt the decline, Merritt argues that Europe must take steps to establish a real political union (which includes much greater transparency and democratic control from citizens), and push for a pro-growth agenda, with a massive pan-European investment plan and with the European Central Bank given beefed up powers to promote jobs and growth.

You can see a video summary of the book online here:

How can we reverse Europe’s decline? Does Europe need to engage in deep and comprehensive reform in order to stave off irrelevance? Now is your chance to put your comments and questions to Giles Merritt about his book – so let us know in the comments below what you would like to ask him!

Image credits: cc/ Flickr – Andreas Levers

44 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    You can’t. The EU is in a death spiral, its just pro EU fanatics don’t know it yet. Any Nation left in it when it crashes will be in for very, very hard time ahead.

  2. avatar

    Create a currency according to the 27 market realities involved , harmonize standards for the middle class, subject investments to better finance scheme, promote common values etc

  3. avatar

    All civilizations rise and fall. Get used to the decline, it is here. Faster or slower makes little difference.

  4. avatar

    Merritt is a typical Europhile who believes the solution to the EU is more political union, more centralised power, more money etc

    What they all fail to grasp is the main problem with the EU is that it makes no effort to justify (to the general taxpaying public) the powers it has and how it spends the money it is already given…and until it does, it will always be seen as just a profligate, elitist, protectionist club which adds no value to anything it does

  5. avatar

    Initially, EU was created to work for the citizens. Nowadays citizens work for EU, them are sustaining its bloated administrative apparatus and unrealistic . A noble mission missed!

  6. avatar

    The most important thing in any house is it’s foundation.

  7. avatar

    Europe should take more care of the ones who aren’t enrolled in University. We’ ve made the Erasmus programme to build a new generation of European citizens, but we forget that half of the youngest generations will probably never have access to a degree. What about the ones who stop their studies before or those who are too old to have the chance to travel with an erasmus programme? I think that we have to take care of them if we want Europe to be colser to its citizens, but I also agree with the book, more Europe is needed.

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      Cecilia, (“more EU is needed”….??) please remember:

      This is “the EU (not Europe)= EU Council”= driven by a system of think-tanks like “Friends of Europe” and the many others who are actually preparing what the “Head of States” (EC) direction should be. Is it believable that- “THEM”- meeting only ~4 times per year are able to produce the complicated EU philosophy- master-plan? “Erasmus” is wonderful- it just prepares the young to become (uncritical) staunch EU believers & EU foot-soldiers!

      Further, the College of the EU Council Members/Commissioners have to swear an oath of allegiance to the EU. In fact becoming traitors to their national governments who seconded them in the first place.

      Ever thought about it?

  8. avatar

    If you want a democratic union first you need to be a democracy and defend the human rights and the values of the peace. At this time, we the catalans, have no democracy, have no repected our elementary rights, we affront the spanish police for vote!!! All the catalan leaders are in prison or in exile. And we are european citizens. Like you. No one in the @eu_comission defend our rights. This is no a modern sociecty, this is a medieval clan. #shameonyoUE

  9. avatar

    Remove the EuroPlusPact directive to start with. Invest in Europe’s population ensuring them the best possible working conditions and benefits.

    We are in denmark suffering greatly under this directive and EU resistance is growing because it motivates our politicians to cut down on our welfare system and cut down on our flexicurity model.

    We feel attacked by the EU due to this directive and we have reached a red line soon which might ignite into heavy EU resistance if ignored and we used to be very pro-EU.

  10. avatar

    “How can we reverse Europe’s decline?”

    “Europe needs to engage in deep and comprehensive reform…” Absolutely, with everything that means for present EU configuration of power and layers of interests. Actually is much simple, reform or get wiped out.

  11. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    Sorry- no questions!

    Has the EU been “elevated” to a book club & the DE appointed its marketing agent?

    Have EU politicians (finally) run out of ideas? Giles Merritt is neither the EC, an EU President nor the EU parliament! Politically bankrupt?

  12. avatar

    Return to family values. Increase the birth rates (not via immigration).
    Less Liberalism. Less Grand Orient values. Less wars.
    Less abortions, improve the economy for the people (not the elites).
    Allow free speech of opinions which some may not like.

    • avatar

      Putin’s mantra…

  13. avatar

    Since brexit, the EU is more popular now in the UK than it ever was before. This is because people have finally educated themselves about what the EU is and does. We have suffered decades of misinformation in the UK through a very right wing press and only now are we waking up out if this ignorant stupor.

    • avatar

      Hahaha. Why are brexiters always so angry and aggressive? I love the democratic eu. So do many many other nice British people. We aren’t angry and negative though. We look to the future, one of integrated union so we have free movement and all other wonderful rights as eu citizens.

    • avatar

      Pen Lister ‘angry and aggressive’ ? We are deliriously happy becasue we are leaving the pointless EU :) its you democracy haters who are angry lol

    • avatar

      Please don’t start with the usual insults. I’m perfectly entitled to hold my view and campaign for legal process regarding the advisory referendum. At least be polite and acknowledge we can have different views.

    • avatar

      Pen Lister .

      There was nothing ‘advisory ‘ about the referendum as both sides made perfectly clear before the vote. Your trying to claim otherwise is either ignorance on your part or just your hatred of the democratic result. Whichever it is it’s irrelevant, we are leaving the pointless EU. So cope with it or live a very unhappy and bitter life :)

      It could be worse though you could be Spanish, Portuguese, Irish, Italian, etc as they are truly trapped.


    • avatar
      Paul X

      “so we have free movement and all other wonderful rights as eu citizens”…

      ……ok, so free movement and?….

      ….oh yes, mobile roaming charges…just wonderful..

    • avatar

      How is the EU democratic? Why do the majority of Europeans now dislike EU system?

      In the UK both the left and right are problems. I dont understand why people are so easy falling into left vs right.

      Forget political parties. Focus on the real system. Chatham House, Fabian Socialist, Bilderberg, Le Cercle, Freemasonry, Military Complex, Your Mainstream Media propaganda, etc.

  14. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    Unify under one language – English or German.
    Force the EU to adopt higher levels of democracy.
    Force the EU to adopt higher levels of accountability.
    Reduce the size of the EU civil service CONSIDERABLY.
    Move towards a more common law legal system rather than the corrupt/revolution prone civil/Roman law system.
    Split the EUP into a congress and a senate and place them in the 2 largest net contributing EU countries. Place the legal/judiciary into the 3rd largest net EU country.
    Make countries within the EU combine into sub-blocs eg Iberian peninsula, Benelux, Visegrad, Germanic, Roman/Italian, Anglo-Saxon etc and use said blocs as a replacement for the CoE.
    When it comes to voting rights, reduce the voting weighting of those countries that are not net EU budget contributors and/or amplify the voting weightings of those EU countries that are net EU contributors.

    • avatar

      Interesting suggestion. On the Sub-Blocs.
      While I prefer the EU split and EU into smaller independant groupings.
      Actually I would split the US into smaller groupings too.
      Easier to govern smaller regions.

  15. avatar

    1) Get realistic targets / plans / policies
    Our politicians especially the North European ones are tend to behave like medieval princess ..to much opseted to their ideology ..
    To the point of losing contact with reality, forcing their subjects to follow them to some sort of holy quest for the utopia that exist only in their minds
    2) kill the bureaucratic monster
    Everything are moving to slow because of outdated overrated useless completely meanless paperwork
    Everything is more expensive just for keeping the beast alive at the end of the day just use your damn computers! !!
    3) if you want a “common identity” work at common interests first , you can not ask from people to stick together or even worse to go against their own interests simple for a blue flag. People need more
    4) stop” sacrificing “areas for the “greater good” it’s so medievally dickkss!! Using southern Italy spain and Greece as buffer zones for the refuge crisis. .doesn’t really help to that common identity thing that we were talking about

  16. avatar
    catherine benning

    How can we reverse Europe’s decline?

    The only way to reverse Europe’s decline is to completely rid our collective Parliaments of people who despise our indigenous people, our culture and all that we stand for as a European civilisation. And in my case, the citizens of the United Kingdom.

    Our society and civilisation is being betrayed on a daily basis. This is not the only area this horror is taking place. Why are the people of our lands allowing this to happen to us as nations? Where are our men? Authorities did and do know what is happening. Have known for very many years. They collude in it by pretending it isn’t taking place and keeping it out of sight as much as they can with threats. And think about it, such simple threats. Name calling. If all our enemies had to do was call us names and we lay down for them what on earth do we have left?


    And the first way to go about reversing the decline in Europe is to confront what our politicians have brought into our lives and hidden from view for as long as they can do so.


    This is taking place right across Europe. And the reason it is happening is, because these little indigenous children are not wearing the hijab.

    What has happened to these girls fathers, uncles, brothers and all those men in our society who are supposed to protect them? Does anyone know?

  17. avatar

    What Europe can do to reverse its decline can never find answer from outdated rhetoric constructed hundreds of years ago because the world has changed, because an ancient civilization, China’s pace of development with a Chinese characteristic is gaining momentum. How can the world ignore a powerful government that can reduce poverty of its population equal to the total sum of France in 4 decades’ reform? How can the world ignore the role the world’s second largest economy in stabilizing the global political economy? As Xi Jinping’s global strategy has been written in the PRC Constitution, it is very clear that China is using its soft power to resist the military superpower. With the construction of a global community that prosper under the Belt and Road policy, Xi is actually adopting the neofunctionalism perspective that has been used for European integration. The spillover effect of regional integration would eventually make war not an option for regional disputes. Isn’t peace and prosperity a shared vision for the world? BREXIT has hastened EU’s decline it is because the British people see only self-interests while ignoring that of the collective ones. To prevent Europe from declining, the only way is to hold EU together even stronger. Without forming a strong union, how can small states of Europe protect its own national interest in front of big countries like China, Russia and the US?

  18. avatar

    Forget about that lip services of democracy! Taking Bill Clinton’s presidency as an example. Clinton is a very brilliant president. His economic policy has created 22 millions of jobs for the people, turned budget deficit of $290 billion to surplus $128 billion, unemployment reduced from 7.5% to 4, poverty rate dropped… Democracy has replaced a brilliant president by junior Bush, Obama and current Trump… What this superpower looks like now? Again, what has forced UK to leave EU? It is the people. After the referendum, what the British people said? Many want a second referendum because they have not cast the vote, they are against BREXIT. When the people are so immature and ignore in voting and making important decisions, democracy does not really serve the national interest.

  19. avatar

    did we not want it to decline? this means we create a whole new and better one.

  20. avatar

    Stop big words and heavy visions. Society(ies) “make no jumps”.
    In brief our problem is that we build our future on “rational expectations” of persons and structures which are irrational.
    Isn’t it simple?

  21. avatar
    Khoen Liem

    Dear Giles,
    We met for the first time more than 15 years ago when I worked at the European Commission, amidst of preparing the Security Research activities; thank you for the contributions and the debates we had in the platform you then created (New Security and Defence Agenda) I have not read your book yet, but I became aware of it through the video summary.
    You are right in all aspects you mentioned in that video clip. However, I think you are omitting one important aspect, namely the ‘EU as a source of peace’ factor.

    Allow me to tell you my private story.
    In March 1968, fifty years ago, my mother, my sister, my two brothers and I landed at Amsterdam airport. My father came to the Netherlands a few weeks earlier to prepare for our arrival.
    We left Indonesia where chaos prevails after the suppression of a (controversial) coup. The Indonesian Army placed President Sukarno under house arrest, starting General Suharto’s three decades of presidency -in October of 1965. In the mass killings that followed; an estimate of 500.000 to more than a million lives were wasted (more recent estimates going as high as 2 to 3 million people killed).
    I remember one day, I went to school, and we -young school children, were loaded into in trucks to demonstrate somewhere. And when the shootings started, they sent us, the younger kids, to the front to become ‘heroes’, as cannon fodder. We had not the slightest clue why we were there nor what demonstration it was.
    I also remember seeing a stream where the water was tinted red with blood. I remember seeing a Chinese bus driver hauled out of the bus, then a soldier stuck his bayonet into the bus driver’s belly; when he fell on the ground, the soldier started kicking that man, over and over again, full of hate. All of that in the name of ‘the new-order’ Suharto was establishing.
    We waited and waited, hoping that ‘next-week’ the nightmare will be over and we will wake up to continue our lives as before.
    Well, it didn’t.
    My father decided that it would be better for us to leave the country for a while and applied for a Visa for the Netherlands.
    We got it!
    And we secretly started preparing for our departure.

    I was in Amsterdam again early March, meeting my mother, my sister, and my two brothers.I took a stroll through the streets and stopped in front of the Anne Frank house. In 1941, Anne’s father applied for a visa to go to the US to flee Nazi-occupied Amsterdam -they were denied entry. The rest of that story we all know.

    We were very-very lucky to have been able to come to Europe. That same Europe that was torn by war just 25 years earlier.
    We are extremely grateful that we have found a new and peaceful home in Europe.
    We prosper because we have peace in Europe.
    Peace is the precondition for prosperity.
    Khoen Liem

    • avatar

      Yes that is respectful method. Now EU just take every one without care in the world. They need no visas no passports just big eyes and hundred kids. And they get stuff i for example have too work 24/7 too get.

  22. avatar

    The people of Europe and their interests need to be made a priority again. How it was when the EU was first founded.

  23. avatar

    It is simple really start caring for member countries like Lithuania,Latvia,Estonia,Poland etc..
    I mean their migration rates are extremely high, because living conditions inhumane and yet nobody cares because they flaunt fake number showing its all perfect its growing doing fine yet 70% of population pretty much starving. Let me tell you this you wish too save Europe? Build a company controlled by union establish it in every member country pay salary based on union standard not a countries standard keep prices for products minimal meaning just paying taxes maintenance and salary no profit. This would push business man too increase salaries and decrease cost, plus quality would actually become a standard for product not the price. Add too all that lectures and training in foreign countries within company. Thats it emigration stoped, economy of weaker countries stabilized, monopolies destroyed, European person live with dignity in his own country and migration becomes culture based more then survival.

  24. avatar
    Jose Quintans

    There is only one thing, and we all know it.
    Europe shall and will rise stronger than ever.

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