EU

The preservation of European unity requires the United Kingdom’s removal from the EEA in addition to the EU.

The preservation of European unity requires the United Kingdom’s removal from the EEA in addition to the EU.

The three months following the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union have seen political mayhem within the country, including the resignation of David Cameron, Nigel Farage’s abandonment of UKIP, and a lack of negotiations between London and Brussels.

This situation will set the precedent for future attempts to withdrawal from the EU.

Naturally, this chaos is cause for concern not only among Brits, but also those wary of their own country’s Brexit-style departure from the EU. Thankfully, similar situations are avoidable elsewhere if immediate action is taken to remove the UK from the European Economic Area (EEA) in addition to the EU.

Removal from both entities would result in a more significant severing of ties between the United Kingdom and Europe than only leaving the EU, and witnessing the accompanying repercussions would deter other countries from staging their own exits.

EFFECTS OF AN EXIT

Prime Minister Theresa May has made it clear that immigration restrictions will be central to any deal made with the EU. However, this is likely to come at the cost of their membership in the single market, which would force the UK to renegotiate trade agreements individually.

Direct consequences on citizens would involve the loss of many EU/EEA services and benefits, such as their EHIC cards, which give citizens in EEA countries access to state-provided health care in any member-state. Likewise, an exit from the EU could threaten pensions and mortgages for future generations.

On a global level, the United Kingdom would sacrifice potential benefits from the world’s largest free trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which is currently under negotiation between the EU and the United States.

THE SOONER THE BETTER

Since the referendum on 23 June, the world has been waiting to see how negotiations will evolve. But, as the vote becomes more distant and talks more uncertain, the EU risks the withdrawal of other eurosceptic member-states; accusations of an overly bureaucratic EU, in their eyes, will be validated.

Therefore, the amount of time it takes for the EU and EEA to break ties with the UK is also crucial; the longer they wait, the stronger their red-tape reputation becomes, which is the last thing the now 27-nation bloc needs.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED IS NOW NECESSARY

I’d like to reiterate that the plan I’ve proposed, to remove the UK from both the EEA and the EU, could have and should have been avoided by the British government’s decision to dismiss the referendum and maintain its current position in Europe. Since a vast majority of citizens aged 18-24 voted “remain,” it is clear that the generation to live with the effects of Brexit does not support the future prescribed to them by their elders.

However, even though the referendum was not legally binding and, therefore, does not require any action, the likelihood of the UK remaining in EU is slim given the government’s position on the matter.

Prime Minister May says she plans on “pushing ahead to Article 50 to lead Britain successfully out of the European Union – with no need for a parliamentary vote.” Furthermore, Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who championed the “leave” campaign, has pledged his support to the “Brexit means Brexit” campaign.

So, assuming the UK follows through with its decision to leave the EU, it should be removed from the EEA in an effort to prevent the country’s actions from inspiring a wave of exit-referenda across Europe. The consequences to be suffered by the British will serve as a warning to the rest of Europe, and while such a course of action may seem severe, the status quo, according to the UK, won’t do.

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Drew Harper

Drew Harper is a Yale Young Global Scholar in International Affairs and Security.

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