UK and the EU: Referendum in a time of discontent

Migrants passing through Macedonia on the way to the EU Image copyright EPA
Image caption How much will fears over migration influence voters in the UK's EU referendum?

In the great and emerging debate about whether Britain should be in or out of Europe, the "ins" already have their script but there is one narrative they fear.

The plan of those who favour staying in the EU will be to focus on the economy, to demand from the "outs" what the British economy would look like outside the EU.

It is a campaign that will focus heavily on risk and security. And if the polls are close in the run-up to the referendum they foresee pressure on the pound and that will only serve to underpin the warnings from some of the heavyweights in the business community that leaving the EU would be a dangerous gamble.

What, almost certainly, will not determine the outcome of the referendum is the detail of the expected deal with the EU.

Few will study closely "emergency brakes" or "red cards" or safeguards for British interests. How they vote will be decided by instinct, by gut, by visceral feelings about the EU.

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Is the EU at risk of breaking up?

  • 26 January 2016
  • From the section Europe
Macedonian Army engineers set a razor wire atop a fence on the border line between Macedonia and Greece Image copyright AP
Image caption Macedonia is building a razor-wire fence on its border

For the past 10 days, Europe's leaders have been engaged in a bout of gloom.

They openly admit Europe has lost control of the migrant crisis, and they fear for the future of the European project itself.

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Sizing up Britain’s EU renegotiation

David Cameron Image copyright EPA
Image caption David Cameron hopes to secure a deal to keep the UK within the EU

In less than a month, the prime minister is expected to have secured a deal he can put to the British people over the country's future in Europe .

The deal is not done - but, cabinet ministers say, "essential pieces" of renegotiation are in place.

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Cologne attacks' profound impact on Europe

  • 11 January 2016
  • From the section Europe
A woman walks in front of the main railway station in Cologne Image copyright Reuters

The events in Cologne and other cities over New Year have left a deep imprint in Germany.

The stories of women running a gauntlet of sexual assault by young men have tapped into society's deepest fears.

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Europe set for a fundamental clash of ideas

  • 1 January 2016
  • From the section Europe
A child refugee, one of 160 people captured attempting to illegally cross to Greece via the Aegean Sea, in the Bodrum district of Mugla province, Turkey Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Turkey has been asked to limit numbers crossing into Europe

In Europe 2015 was, in part, the year of the unexpected: migrants, Schengen in doubt, terror, Volkswagen.

And yet much played out as predicted: a fresh Greek drama, a fragile economy and the continued rise of anti-establishment parties.

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No breakthrough for Cameron in Brussels

David Cameron Image copyright EPA
Image caption David Cameron spoke for 45 minutes

All the right soothing words were used during the Brussels evening. David Cameron spoke of "good progress" and "a pathway to a deal" - but for the moment there is deadlock.

The prime minister addressed the other leaders for 45 minutes.

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David Cameron's complex balancing act on Europe

Heathrow passport control Image copyright PA
Image caption The UK wants to take a tougher line on EU migrants

In Britain's tense renegotiation with the rest of the EU, nothing is quite what it seems.

There are riddles and enigmas aplenty. Over dinner on Thursday, at a summit in Brussels, David Cameron will make a big pitch to find a compromise over EU migration.

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Europe may be witness to a new political era

Marine Le Pen, Front National party leader Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Is Marine Le Pen ushering in a new politics?

The success of Marine Le Pen and the National Front (FN) in France underlines the shifting plates of European politics.

She is far right, anti-Europe and anti-immigration, but many of those who voted for her once voted for the Communists and the Socialists.

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Is the European project falling apart?

  • 27 November 2015
  • From the section Europe
An armed policeman and two soldiers guard the shops on Rue Du Marche Aux Herbes on 23 November 2015 in Brussels Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police and soldiers on the streets of Brussels after the terror attacks in Paris were linked to the city

An unwinding rarely has a start date. It settles in over time. It is an erosion, deceptive, slow at first, and then it is all around you; old certainties crumbling; the believer's glint dulled; the claim on destiny weakened.

In just a matter of months, the idea of Europe has been unwinding, buffeted by successive crises; the Greek drama, the columns of migrants; the terror attacks.

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Paris attacks: The crisis of Europe’s borders

  • 18 November 2015
  • From the section Europe
A young Muslim woman lights a candle outside the French Embassy in Berlin Image copyright Getty Images

Europe's open borders were already under strain from the refugee crisis. After the attacks in Paris there are increasing doubts about whether they can survive without being reinforced.

Firstly - and not unexpectedly - the far right has used the crisis to challenge Europe's passport-free zone as guaranteed by the Schengen agreement. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front in France, called passport-free travel "madness" and insisted: "We have to reinstate our national borders."

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