For anyone following recent news, there is one thing that is clear: no one knows, nor can prove, the impact of Brexit. Busy reflecting on its economic and political ramifications, one should not forget to question the very concept of a nation being eligible to leave the Union with such ease.
A Result Of Failed EU Policy
The fact that a single referendum, with such a low percentage difference between the two sides, in one moment in time, can trigger a nation’s exit from the single market ultimately means that the EU is completely unsustainable in the long-term. There will come a time – if not now then later – when every country in the EU will face difficulties, discontent and most importantly, disagreement with its fellow member states. Politicians will use these factors as catalysts to further their political careers by any means necessary. In Britain, the UKIP pushed a misleading belief among the general public that migration will be altered post-Brexit, this becoming the main argument of the Leave campaign.
It is clear that there will be a ‘war’ between national direct democracy and what the EU considers its universal European freedoms. No matter how many battles the EU wins, each loss will push it ten steps back.
The Brexit vote has already encouraged similar reactions all over Europe with populist movements in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and France gaining momentum. In Austria, the re-running of the presidential election could bring a far-right party to power in the EU for the first time since World War 2, while opinion polls in France have shown Marine Le Pen’s National Front party consistently at 25-30% in the polls since 2013. Unfortunately, what makes the whole phenomenon worse is that this process of European destabilisation involves xenophobia and, as seen in the UK, empowers racists.
The reforms of political unity and mobility needed to save the EU, or rather, to keep the EU safe, oppose member states’ current wishes to distance themselves further from complete unity (and rightfully so). Take the example of Greece: a nation that wholeheartedly welcomed both the idea of a unified Europe and the political and economic policies that came with it is now hanging by a thread in relation to its European debtors.
Possibly, the question asked by eurosceptics should not be why the EU is getting involved in sovereign nations’ affairs, but rather, to what extent should one sovereign nation destabilise a 60-year-old multinational political block, which was established to bring peace and prosperity in a war-torn region in the first place. It is clear that if reforms are not favourable, then what the EU needs is a redefinition of what it means to be European or a re-evaluation of the Union’s criteria for membership. If saving the EU means Brussels loosening its political and economic stances, then maybe this is the best choice for our generation, to avoid complete annihilation of the Union and the uncertainty that comes with it.
Ultimately, the EU is flawed but fundamentally a good idea. And, regardless of how much one might not like the EU, an EU-less Europe is not just a concept but was once a reality one might want to learn from.