June 2016

Britain is still European - message from the President
ECNP e-news
Message from the President
Thursday 30 June 2016

Guy Goodwin

 

Given the timing of this blog, it is rather difficult, as a UK citizen, to avoid mentioning Brexit. The result came as a surprise here. It followed a campaign of stunning awfulness by both sides. It remains unclear currently what will happen.

However, I feel obliged to explain and not complain. Euroscepticism cuts across the conventional political battle lines in this country. It is focused on how one views the Brussels bureaucracy and the main difference between the two ‘sides’ is between those who would like to see reform from within and those who see a better chance of reform from stepping out. It was not a vote for ‘leaving Europe’.

I regret that the result provides a distorting mirror from which commentators from across Europe can reflect their own essentially local conclusions. So, I have seen it portrayed as either a crime against humanity or a great victory, and many things in between. As a matter of fact, the majority of a very high turn out who voted to leave gave sovereignty as the major reason, and that concern is legitimate. Anyway, to speak personally, it was the only issue on which I agonised in deciding which way to vote.

The academic community had a strong self interest to vote to stay in the current arrangements and did so by an overwhelming majority. So you will not meet many colleagues who voted to ‘leave’. Clearly, participation in networks for research in Europe, notwithstanding world-class levels of bureaucracy, is a positive for UK biomedical science. We have been much the richer for it. Academic work is universal and internationalist by its nature, so support for science by the EU has been very good for us. It really would be a disaster for both sides if ways are not found to continue to collaborate in the future.

I know that I speak for all my colleagues here in the UK in saying that our enthusiasm for a working co-operation with friends at the European level is undimmed, and unaffected by whatever institutional changes ensue after Brexit. Since ECNP already has a broader definition of Europe than the EU, perhaps it can go on facilitating how such co-operation can happen. I certainly hope so.
 

 

Guy Goodwin
ECNP President


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