Britain’s historic referendum showed that a majority of voters do not want to be part of the European community, with the Eurosceptics gathering 51.9% of voters. England and Wales voted in favor of leaving, while Scotland, Northern Ireland and London voted to stay. Alexander Rahr, research director of the German-Russian Forum told valdaiclub.com about possible consequences and the need to find a new future for Europe.
Will the map of the EU change after the referendum? Can we expect that other countries follow the UK’s lead in leaving the EU?
The next week will show in what epoch European politicians entered. Whether the EU moves in the same direction as the Soviet Union 25 years ago, or whether there are rational forces inside Europe, who, unlike the CPSU Politburo members, realize that the EU structure should be drastically altered, to make it viable and reform it to make it comfortable for its residents. Those residents have a right to vote, they can decide their fate and choose their future.
These are not empty words. In reality, this means that now the EU needs to think together about the solution of the refugee problem, which actually worries all EU residents. Many fear Europe’s Islamization, the idea that the EU’s internal image and mentality can change if millions of Africans, Asians and Arabs come to Europe. This is the main problem.
If we talk about economy, the old model built on perpetual growth and prosperity has not worked since the beginning of the financial crisis. There needs to be a new symbiosis between capitalism and socialism, between the rich and poor, and the opportunity for Europe to live by its own rules. It remains stuck in the mode of construction of a something like United States of Europe. On the other hand, there are countries like the UK, which want Europe to be nothing but a common market.
There are several ways to overcome the crisis. I presume that Europe can become a separate state led by Germany. That is, it would be a “heartland Europe,” which consists of only a few countries, which are trying to rescue the European idea. It is possible that they would decide on conducting a common financial, economic and social policy, discuss it together and hand more functions to the supra-national body in Brussels.
However, there would be an array of countries that would not do this, and would observe with interest the situation in Britain and how much more successful it becomes in economic development after leaving the European Union. In any case, there are many questions without answers right now.
Will the Brexit influence TTIP talks?
I can presume that the weakening of the EU will only accelerate this process. The Americans really lost nothing from Britain’s exit from the EU. They can appeal for the UK to join NAFTA, into a free trade zone with the US.
It is important to understand psychologically, why the TTIP is being created. It is not simply a mischief or whimsy by some politicians. Europe can see that it is losing in the competition against Asian tigers. In a globalized world, as it turned out, the EU is too weak to stay afloat and be as strong an actor as it has been in previous years.
Because of this, many think that it would be better to take the US’ bait and connect the EU’s markets with the US, to save themselves with the help from the US, which continues to dictate the rules of international trade, and become a Trans-Atlantic bloc, which would dominate in a future system of world trade. Because of this, a weakened EU would try even harder to come under the US’ wing.
It should be noted that these are projects of the elites. The British example showed that it’s not that simple, because the people decide everything in the end. Both here in Germany and in other countries, any such decision has to be put to a referendum.
These referendums, “voices of the people,” are greatly feared, on the one hand, and on the other, they realize that there is no way to move forward without them. This is because Europe is built upon the freedom of choice, on democracy, which means that any steps into the future have to be approved by the populace.
How will Brexit influence the UK’s relationship with the EU?
Britain has never been a “complete” EU member, but yes, there will be a great disappointment. The country will no longer be allowed to take part in solving internal European issues. Financially, everyone will suffer, because large financial flows went through the UK, from which EU banks benefited. Now, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange will strengthen and play an even bigger role for Europe. The entire burden rests on Germany. The Germans realize this, and they don’t really want it, by the way. They know the limits of their abilities, particularly in finance.
Of course this issue should we solved, as well as others, and we should try to not repeat the mistakes of other countries. I remember how 25 years ago, when the Soviet Union was collapsing, its leaders thought that everything would work out and that such a colossus as the USSR would exist forever. But suddenly, only a short time after the initial shocks, the USSR ceased to exist. Europeans should take care not to repeat these mistakes.
The EU is the largest creation of the Europeans after WWII. It gave Europe peaceful order and rid it of wars (except the Yugoslav one). The generations that wanted to build the EU for this purpose should be remembered: how trust was developed, technologies were exchanged. They approached each other for many years.
Some ten to twenty years ago, all the elites were trying to build a strong Europe with a strong President, strong Minister of Foreign Affairs, strong Parliament, handing over its sovereignties to Brussels. No one forced the countries to do this. They all did it with the conviction that Europe is a successful model of integration.
The other Europe, consisting of nation-states, is much more complicated. No one knows what it would be like in the 21st century. It is being feared of. That is why we should now think, how not to repeat the mistakes of the past.