A senseless vote

A senseless vote -  CO.EUR.

British citizens voted to leave the European Union on June 23, with 51.9 percent of voters choosing to exit. Migration was the cornerstone of the Leave campaign, which objected to the European Union’s insistence on the free movement of  labor, capital, goods and services.

 The results of the referendum have ushered in greater political uncertainty, a heightened sense of financial market risk and deep division in British society. Campaigners for British withdrawal made audacious promises. Now that they won it seems that they don’t know what to do. Some supporters of Brexit expected to lose and for them the main objective was the  gaining  of political consensus and power. Some others leaders who campaigned to leave EU are already backpedaling on pronouncements they made just before the vote.

 The Leave campaign leaders  promised  both a  future of thriving economy and control over immigration. On the contrary the economic and trade problems arising from Brexit will dominate British politics for years to come. Supporters of leaving EU assured that  because Britain imports more from the EU than it sells to it, the other EU member  countries must offer a generous free-trade deal. But the priority for the rest of the EU will be to make sure that nobody follows Britain’s example. That precludes giving Britain a good deal also because any deal must be approved by all 27 countries.  Probably the EU will offer Britain only two possible deals. If they want access to the EU’s single market and to enjoy the wealth it brings, like Norway, they will have to make a hefty contribution to the EU budget, observe all EU single-market regulations with no say in making  and accept free movement of people. If Britain rejects free movement,  they will have to pay the economic price of being excluded from the single market.  Security and foreign-policy concerns will also emerge. 

 We will see what it will happen when  UK will invoke the article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, which sets a two-year timetable to agree the terms of departure. But uncertainty remains and  we cannot exclude that Prime Minister David Cameron's eventual successor will find a way to avoid heeding the call of the nonbinding vote.

 The British electorate that voted in favor of leaving inflicted a grave blow to UK and  to EU that is already facing serious  crises. In Europe the euro zone is troubled and divided, the refugee problem continues, anti-EU populist and illiberal parties are everywhere on the rise. Also  each country feels owns resentment  towards the European Union. Some member countries blame the EU austerity policies,  in other countries  traditional and illiberal movements and parties  accuse EU for imposing cosmopolitan values meanwhile  in  other member countries  the EU is accused of being  ultra-liberal or, on the contrary,  to impose  excessive rules to the economic activity.

 The European Institutions in Brussels  lost touch and appeal with citizens in almost all European countries and not just in Britain. So a lot of work has to been done in building an European common identity and gain the support of the citizens. It should be a priority for the next years. There are still hopes for the ideals  of the European integration and unity. It’s true that a narrow 52 percent of British citizens voted to leave the European Union. They won according the law of  democracy. But it’s also true that 48 percent of the 33 million British citizens voted to stay in the European Union. A lot of young people among them. They should not to be left alone. The European transnational cooperation among citizens and organizations from the educational, cultural and civil society from UK and the other European countries should be continued and increased.

 25/06/2016  - CO.EUR.