Brexit from a European Perspective
If there’s one thing the British can’t agree on- it’s the EU. A large number of Britons believe that they are losing out by being members of the ‘ever closer union’ while another contingent believes that a united Europe is for the best. The war between these two factions will reach a climax on June 23rd, when Britain decides the future of its relationship with the EU.
The mayor of London, Boris Johnson has finally made up his mind and will be seen as a key figure leading the Leave EU campaign. The main argument which the EU leave campaigners provide is that the country will get back its sovereignty. People of the United Kingdom are no longer convinced that the House of Commons is sovereign, and that is both: the main reason why the referendum is being held in the first place, and the main argument of the EU Leave campaigners. Another important reason behind Britons’ desire to Vote Leave is the contributions of the UK to the EU budget. The country pays more into the EU budget than it gets back, making people question if EU membership is worth it. Finally, it is argued by some that large scale deregulation which the country would be able to implement after leaving the EU would make it better off by 2030.
Prime Minister, David Cameron, as expected, after reaching the deal, announced that he believes the UK will be safer, stronger and better off if it stays in a reformed European Union. The beliefs of PM are shared by millions of Britons who understand the importance of the European single market for the UK’s economy, some arguing that the GDP would fall by between 6.3% to 9.5% if no trade deal is reached after Brexit. Moreover, they do not believe that a country the size of the United Kingdom is capable of coping with major problems of our time alone also adding that the country would lose its influence in the world. Finally, it is believed that Scots, who are more pro-European, would almost certainly want to break away from the Union.
Undoubtedly a strong Europe is vital for strong Britain, therefore no matter how convincing the arguments of both sides are, another thing that they should take account of is the state of the European Union in the case of the UK breaking away from it. It is clear that French Front National Leader Marine Le Pen will push for Frexit if ever in power, unless she could renegotiate the terms of France’s membership in the EU. Moreover, European Council President, Donald Tusk suggests that some other EU leaders might follow the lead set by the Brexit referendum as it is a "a very attractive model for some politicians in Europe to achieve some internal, very egotistic goals". Inspired by Brexit, nationalism and populism would gather even more momentum delivering a devastating blow to European integration. In such a case, Nordic countries, members of the Visegrad group (Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia) could follow the UK’s lead. It is quite obvious that if the EU unravels, we will be back to Europe that we had in the first half of the 20th century – divided and less prosperous.
Another downside of Brexit, even if it does not trigger further disintegration of the Union, would be felt by the newest members of the EU. The countries who joined the EU in 2004, 2007 and 2013 benefited greatly from the membership – their democracies flourished and economies prospered. Lithuania, for example, saw its GDP per capita almost tripling, despite the economic recession, since membership. The assistance that these less economically developed countries receive from the EU is vital and seeing one of the strongest countries leave the Union would mean less support and fewer funds which would mean slower economic development.
The people of the United Kingdom cannot just think about themselves on Thursday 23rd June. They cannot because the future of not just Britain, but also that of Europe and even the rest of the world lies in their hands.