Of course, leaving the EU does not prevent cooperation with the rest of the world – but it would make it harder to influence what the EU would look like and do. Take, for example, the argument that the UK should leave the EU because countries from the Balkans or Turkey are lining up to join. Brexit would not make these countries move from the map to a region that will be of no relevance. The UK will remain in Europe and with the same neighbours.
The only difference that Brexit would make is that it will be impossible for the UK to influence the very region it is part of – including a veto on which countries are admitted to the EU. Brexit would also mean abandoning a seat at the table of one of the main forums that shapes the world – be it on trade, environmental or other issues.
Of course, the EU is not free of problems – which political project is? It is hard to deny that there is a significant gap between European citizens and the EU, which should be of concern. Yet, if history teaches us anything, it is that the EU has developed through crises. Take for example, how, after 9/11, states moved towards greater cooperation on issues of terrorism, including the introduction of the European arrest warrant, which was recently used to extradite the Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam to France and in the past has helped British authorities to extradite suspects to the UK.
Jean Monnet, the French diplomat and father of the EU, once said: “Europe will be forged in crises, and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises.” Being a European country, no matter how small or large, choosing to stay outside is a grave mistake. A mistake that, at the moment – and despite the difficulties they have encountered – seems far clearer to Greeks than to the British.