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In the aftermath of the shocking Brexit vote, many are now starting to speculate on the future of the European Union. The prospect of future exits by EU member states is looking more and more possible by the day due to political tension between member states amid the monumental refugee crisis.
Is Brexit setting a precedent for a future Frexit, Nexit or Swexit, and perhaps a complete breakup of the EU?
As the first sovereign nation to leave the EU, the UK is paving the way for intense scrutiny over an institution that is heavily flawed in many respects. Business Insider called Brexit and the migrant crisis two of the biggest threats to the breakup of the EU – Brexit has exploited British fears of fellow EU member states pressuring the UK to take in more refugees. As it stands, there is no consistent European policy on migration, which has consequently pushed the crisis “into the black market,” while leaving most of the burden on Mediterranean EU countries.
EU member states have largely been permitted to enforce their own immigration policies as they see fit, without guidance from the European Court of Justice, the European Commission or the European Parliament. Whether or not said policies are morally permissible is an entirely different discussion. The Hungarian government, for example, is in the process of building a wall on its border with Serbia in order to keep refugees out.
Now let’s take a look at the member states that could potentially leave the EU:
Prominent right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders has been one of the most vocal about a potential “Nexit” scenario. Wilders, leader of the anti-immigrant Freedom Party, has expressed desire to make a Nexit referendum a central point of his campaign for prime minister in next year’s parliamentary elections.
A poll held on Sunday, however, found that a small majority of Dutch people are not in favor of holding a Nexit referendum.
Poll organizer Maurice de Hond stated that “if a referendum is held we would expect that, just as in Britain, the turnout among lower educated voters will be relatively high.” Accordingly, like American supporters of a Donald Trump presidency, poorly educated voters are more likely to support Geert Wilders and his referendum in the Dutch general election campaign next spring.
No other Dutch political party supports the notion, and Prime Minister Mark Rutte even called the move “utterly irresponsible.” Still, if Donald Trump can win the American Republican nomination, perhaps the prospect of Geert Wilders getting his way isn’t all that far-fetched.
The possibility of a “Grexit” may perhaps be the most feasible. Although a majority of Greeks still want to remain in the EU, a survey by Pew Research Center found that a 71% of Greeks have unfavorable views of the EU, while a startling 90% disapprove of how the EU is handling the refugee crisis – an even higher percentage than in the UK. Greece, which the EU relies on heavily to handle the refugee crisis, is also the Eurozone’s weakest link. Greeks feel let down by the EU in the midst of the influx of refugees, as they have taken in more than 1 million refugees in the last 18 months.
During the 2010 Euro crisis, select countries, including Greece, were denied access to international credit markets and instead were forced to accept a “rescue deal” from the EU and the IMF. As a result, many of these countries are still experiencing economic recession.
Furthermore, the decreasing value of the British pound will make Greek vacations for British people much more expensive – another blow to the Greek economy, which is largely driven by tourism.
“Frexit” is another possible future scenario, although most mainstream French politicians, including President Francois Hollande, do not currently support exiting the EU.
Marine Le Pen, leader of the the Front National party, is a major proponent of Frexit. As The Guardian states, “Brexit was also about a wider resurgence of what [Le Pen] called ‘patriotic’ movements across Europe.” Le Pen has stated that she will hold a referendum, should she win the French presidential election next April.
Although 61% of Italians want to remain in the EU, an “Italeave” scenario is a possibility in a similar vein to the Grexit potential. After the Brexit vote, Italy’s stock market fell by 10%, indicating the possibility of a full-blown banking crisis, and the eventual complete collapse of Italy’s banks. Italy’s Five Star Movement, another anti-immigration political group, is in favor of Italeave.
The Swedish political party Sweden Democrats wants Sweden to “renegotiate its relationship with the EU” according to The Guardian. Although mainstream Swedish political parties largely support remaining in the EU, Sweden Democrats has gained quite a bit of support since tensions around the refugee crisis developed – Sweden took in a record number of asylum seekers last year.
There has also been further speculation about a Danish “Dexit” or an Austrian “Oexit” (in reference to the German word for Austria – Österreich).
Although most mainstream European politicians have expressed their support for remaining in the EU, the dialogue sparked by Brexit has unearthed many of the flaws in the EU as an institution. Other EU member states following suit is a chief concern for the EU right now, CNN reported. “There is no way of predicting all the political consequences of [Brexit],” stated EU President Donald Tusk.
Regardless of who leaves the EU next, the whole Brexit scenario has managed to expose many of the EU’s shortcomings, and the potential for an EU breakup in the future. The far-right Danish People’s Party accordingly described Brexit as a “stinging slap to the whole system.”
Photo courtesy of The Telegraph