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BREXIT: Regional integration and preventing the next Italeave and Fradieu

When looking at the inner UK Brexit election results is clear that there is a clear disagreement with Northern Ireland and Scotland

The European Union was founded with the economic purpose of facilitating trade within the European economies and ultimately to create interdependence between these countries to avoid intra-European conflicts such as the ones we lived through in the 20th century. The peace purpose of the EU was proven right, based on the armed conflicts or lack thereof in Europe since its inception. International institutions have recognized this with the example of the EU receiving in 2012 the Nobel Peace Prize for: “over six decades contributing to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights”.

In basic terms, European Union membership entails three elements:

  1. The European countries pay membership dues.
  2. The European countries vote together on laws they all must follow at the European Parliament.
  3.  Members of the EU are automatically European Citizens.

Did you notice that all three of these statements have asterisks attached to them? Well, get used to them, Europe loves asterisks that add exceptions to complicated agreements. The European Union works alongside another group of treaties such as the European Economic Area, the Schengen Area, and the Euro Zone.
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The case of the United Kingdom has been special since its inception as the country has always been wary of compromising sovereignty to a supranational institution. Remember membership dues? Well, in 1985 then Primer Margaret Thatcher negotiated the infamous “UK Rebate”, a complex series of exemptions to reduce their dues to the EU. Also, the United Kingdom negotiated an opt-out clause of the Euro Zone treaty within the EU (if you have ever wondered why they still use the Pound Sterling, this is why). Regarding the aforementioned Schengen area, the UK argued that “Islands are different” and also decided to sign out of it. In short, the UK membership in the EU has been exceptional to say the least.

Regardless of the special treatment the UK received, the fact is they voted   to leave the European Union on an extremely close election (51% leave 49% remain). The “Leave” campaign had two main arguments: Economic independence and immigration policy autonomy. This is a great moment to mention that most of the world’s powers were against leaving including the United States, China and the European Union itself. International organizations like IMF and the OECD along local English institutions such as the Bank of England, the British Treasury, and the Center for Economic Performance have issued separate reports on the downside of separation, agreeing on the fact that leaving the EU would be an economic net negative for the UK and would immerse the country in an immediate recession.

Brexit contagion

Brexit also represents the biggest blow to regional integration and flexible migration policy and here’s where it gets interesting. When looking at the inner UK Brexit election results is clear that there is a clear disagreement with Northern Ireland and Scotland voting overwhelmingly to remain in the EU (62-38 in Scotland and 55-45 in Northern Ireland). These countries will likely push for independence in the next few years after failed attempts to negotiate separate union terms and conditions between the UK and the EU. As planned by the campaigners to leave, this will also have an impact on immigration but maybe not the preferred kind. There will be a human capital flight with high end talent leaving the UK as well as skilled labor from European migrants will be reduced as well.

Although there are economic incentives for Europeans to aid the UK in the transition and keep it working, this political hit against integration will be met with contempt by the European leaders. The world needs to make sure that for the UK out is out, and the harshest of consequences fall upon the British to send a message that echoes the European Union official motto: “United in diversity”. Most recently the case for leaving has gathered support in many countries key to the survival of the union such as France and the Netherlands. The European Union needs to prevent the next Italeave, Fradieu, Departugal or whatever catchy name it gets.

The European Union has been the model of regional political and economical integration for other organizations such as the SICA, ASEAN, MERCOSUR, CEMAC, etc. This is partly because it’s the first of its kind but most importantly because nothing had worked like the EU. Even in the sea of asterisk-led exceptions, the EU cruised its way to a political and economic supranational union.

These years since 1945 have no previous precedent for a period of peace and integration. Seventy-one years are nothing relative to our universal history and nothing guarantees us that we will not return to the period of geopolitical division and the intrinsic conflicts that this brings with it. Integration and the interdependence it creates has been our best insurance policy by de-incentivizing conflict and separation through the establishment of mutually entangled interests and means of development

We will have to face now the wall-building, racism-driven politicians across the globe accusing the EU political establishment of attacking self-determination, sovereignty, and respect for democracy at the first minimum effort by the EU to make the process more painful to show the importance of unity. Make no mistake; in a world divided by man-made borders, the common ground and joint efforts have given us the chance to make this world the best place it has been in its history.

In the best European way we can, let’s add Brexit as an asterisk to history and keep pushing towards regional integration worldwide.

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