The day of the referendum on the so-called BrExit is drawing near. BrExit is the referendum in which the citizens of the United Kingdom will vote for or against remaining the European Union. The newspapers and the media in general are full of numbers and conflicting opinions about what will happen on 23 June, but one thing is certain, in case YES wins, the continent will no longer be the same. It is not a matter of listening or not to Wolfgang Schaeuble’s threats regarding the possibility to access continental markets or not, nor of listening to the alarm of Euro’s collapse and the apocalyptic scenarios that will happen; it is about taking a glimpse of what is likely to happen.
Certainly, there are risks, even serious risks, especially on financial markets, since London is the most important European equity market. Besides, the living cost of maintaining the European institutions will become more conspicuous for the Member States. Yet, there might be something no one noticed, something the media have barely mentioned. Yet, this is the true concern about the future BrExit might mean throughout the Community system.
BrExit, if it happens, will become an important legal precedent, perhaps as powerful as the following words the founding fathers wanted in the American declaration of independence: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
A number of politicians in the highest offices repeatedly pointed out that EU’s process of aggregation was irreversible. An action of this magnitude, made by one of the “majority shareholders” of the Union, would prove their position wrong.
It is not a matter of accepting or rejecting Euro, nor the sterile polemic against an alleged European Soviet Union, it proves that there is no aggregation path that cannot be abandoned, even at a high price – unquestionably -, but it will allow a new way of pondering foreign policy choices and economic policy in the years to come.
BrExit might become a catalyst for new exits of countries that are showing a certain degree of disenchantment, perhaps almost disgust, towards EU. If any of them were, by choice or necessity, one of the other most representative States (Italy, France, or even Germany), it would be possible to declare the definitive end of the unitary project for Europe.
Another hypothesis might be that if Britain leaves the European Union, it might become an input for a profound reform of the European system. The latter will finally decide whether to take the Federal path, towards a hypothetical United States of Europe, or towards a structured area of free trade strengthened by a central coordination to which certain powers will be delegated. More or less the way things should work today, but probably with more accurate and shared rules.
So far, we have considered only the victory of “leave” in the referendum of 23 June. What if “remain” wins? This is not an unlikely scenario, since there is not much distance between the two options, although, at the moment, it seems that the public is oriented to vote for leaving the European Union. In this case, given the modest gap between the two positions, the weight of the so-called “Euro-skeptics” would not allow Brussels to disregard it. It will be forced to renegotiate some points we might define as controversial inside the treaties and laws implemented in recent years.
Long story short, next week we will witness a key date for all EU member states. Whatever the outcome of the consultation, it will produce serious consequences in EU’s internal political relations and, perhaps, in its structure. The concerns expressed by the politicians and financial markets are proof, although criticism is not always negative. One of the times, the term crisis takes one of the meanings arising greek term krisis, which also means choice and opportunities.