We look at what the European Union will look like without Britain and how the UK will fare without the EU.
The UK has been threatening to leave the European Union for some time, but with Britain preparing for a referendum on EU membership in June, a British exit from the EU, or Brexit, is becoming a real possibility.
It's going to be hard... but I will not take a deal that does not meet what we need.
Prime Minister David Cameron has warned his European counterparts that the UK could leave if it fails to meet his country’s needs. He says he wants to stay in the EU, but not under current rules.
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Cameron recently travelled to Brussels armed with a package of reforms, demanding controversial concessions, the kind that require an actual change in EU treaty terms.
Cameron’s proposed reforms included restricting benefits for up to four years for migrants arriving in Britain from other parts of the EU; to be able to opt out of the EU’s drive to pursue an “ever closer union across Europe”; plus, a stop to the financial regulation which some believe is strangling business in Britain.
But the reforms are just one part of the situation, because with or without them, there will be a referendum in the UK which will settle its membership once and for all.
So what is next for Europe? Is the Brexit a real possibility? And, if so, what does the future look like for the different countries?
Karel Lannoo, the chief executive of the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies, joins Counting the Cost to discuss Brexit and what this could mean for the UK and the EU.
The Saudi-Russia oil deal
Oil powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed to freeze oil production if other producers do the same, in a move aimed at halting a drop that has seen oil prices reach their lowest levels in more than a decade.
The agreement, which also included Qatar and Venezuela, was the first deal struck between an OPEC and a non-OPEC player in 15 years.
“It is a beginning of a process which we will assess, in the next few months, and decide whether we need other steps to stabilise and improve the market … We don’t want significant gyrations in prices. We do not want reduction in supply. We want to meet demand. We want a stable oil price,” Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said.
Iran, who only recently started shipments of crude to Europe after years of sanctions, didn’t commit to the plan but said it did “support” it.
Vitaly Kazakov, director of Master of Economics in Energy and Natural Resources at the Moscow-based New Economics School, joins the programme to discuss whether the crisis can be stopped and what the future holds for oil dependant countries such as Venezuela.