If the E.U. dissolves as a political union, the consequences could indeed be fatal to the Western world, says Josh Adamson
The impossible has happened. On June 23rd, millions of British citizens voted in a historic referendum about whether their country should stay or leave the European Union. The financial markets and indeed much of the world had written off the possibility of Britain leaving the Union, even the head of the pro-Brexit United Kingdom Independence Party, Nigel Farage, wrote off his side’s chances early in the night.
Yet, the world woke up and found out that the Brexit was indeed a reality. As a result, the Pound dropped to a level not seen since 1985 and stock markets around the world crashed. Right-wing politicians across Europe called for E.U. membership referendums in their own country, including Marine Le Pen of France and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands. David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, said he would resign in October. This is the immediate aftermath, and it is bad, but indeed it could get much, much worse.
The E.U. is an economic and political union of 28 (soon to be 27) liberal democracies in Europe. The E.U., more than anything, is an embodiment of Western Civilization. It is a collection of post-modern states that have agreed not to fight against each other. It is almost unthinkable that any E.U. country would attack another, a feat in it of itself that is worthy of an award (and one that did receive an award, see 2009 Nobel Peace Prize).
The E.U. values human rights, rule of law and democracy; everything Western Civilization stands for. It is the biggest partner the United States has in fighting terrorism and spreading western values. So in other words, any weakening of the E.U. has a detrimental effect on the United States.
The United Kingdom faces many dangers without the E.U.
Scotland and Northern Ireland both overwhelmingly voted to stay in the E.U. (62.2% of Scots and 55.7% of Northern Irish people). The morning after the referendum, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said that the Brexit would trigger another Scottish Referendum, and with the prospect of the E.U. with the Independence side, it appears Scotland will leave the United Kingdom.
Northern Ireland could soon follow, because it too voted to remain in the E.U., and the prospect of duties and border control with Ireland would definitely hurt any prospect of staying in the U.K. It appears as if the centuries old United Kingdom will fall. What remains (England and Wales), will no doubt still be strong. Scotland and Northern Ireland only account for around 8 million people, a small fraction of the current 63 million people living in the United Kingdom. Yet they still are an integral part of the United Kingdom and there exit from the Kingdom would no doubt be felt.
However, we shouldn’t forget that England is a nuclear power, with a permanent seat on the Security Council and one of the largest economies in Europe. They have one of the world’s financial capitals in London. England will still be a strong country, yet without the E.U. and Scotland and Northern Ireland it will be an even weaker power than it already is.
Even if the United Kingdom manages to stick together it still has an upward climb. Its influence will be considered lessened without the E.U. London will struggle to be a center of global trade without the perk of it being in the E.U., The U.K. will also have to renegotiate all of its trade deals without the benefit of having the world’s largest trade bloc to back it up, and it will have to deal with the massive economic consequences of leaving the world’s largest free-trade zone.
Now, we should discuss the potential disintegration of the E.U.
The economic hazard alone would be enough to give any economist heart burn. Potentially, it could be like the United States disintegrating, and each state becoming their own sovereign nation, returning to their own currency, and implementing tariffs on opposing states. However, in my opinion, no matter what happens, the E.U. will continue to exist as some form of free-trade union.
Yet, if the E.U. dissolves as a political union, the consequences could indeed be fatal to the Western world. Right now, right-wing illiberal governments are on the rise in the E.U. and the Western world. Without the E.U. promoting Western Values, and demanding democracy, freedom and rule of law in fringe E.U. countries like Hungary and Poland, these countries could slip into the Russian sphere of influence.
This could start a domino effect throughout Europe leaving the liberal Western Europe and moving closer and closer to illiberal Eastern Europe and Russia, especially if there is economic distress across the continent. This economic distress would be almost certain with the disintegration of the E.U. and the end of the Euro. After Poland and Hungary, Bulgaria, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia, even the birthplaces of Western civilization, Italy and Greece could leave the E.U. and become illiberal democracies or even authoritarian governments.
If countries start leaving, the domino effect might be unstoppable and the E.U. would collapse as a political entity. If this happens, Western Civilization would become the United States and a very small, weak and lose collection of European countries. Needless to say, with global terrorism a constant threat and Russia and China looking increasingly threatening, Western Democracies will be outmatched in the fight for influence in the developing world. It is a frightening possibility, but the end of the West’s dominance could be approaching extremely quickly if the E.U. collapses.
Of course, most of what is written above is not guaranteed to happen and might even be unlikely. Although extremely improbable, the Brexit could make the European Union. stronger and Western Civilization could continue being an extremely strong presence across the globe. Yet, the fact remains that the Brexit makes the European Union much weaker and the potential for a total collapse of it and Western Civilization is at it’s highest point since the dark days of the World War II. These are dark days ahead for the West.