Generation Brexit

Is Britain the new bully in the European neighbourhood?

Brexit isn't only ruining relationships in this country, it's also causing trouble out there on the European continent.

The EU is seen as a force of peace – it even got the Nobel Prize in 2012 – and as it grew from 6 to 28 members, there have been friendly times in the EU-family. But since Britain’s vote in the referendum blocked the door for new members, Balkan countries now fear for their memberships and have been more unstable than usual: demonstrations in Serbia, attacks on the Macedonian parliament and allegations of Russian involvement in a coup attempt in Montenegro.

Ironically, with the UK deciding to pack up and leave, the countries that are hoping to join the EU were abandoned by their biggest ally. As a result, when leaders of European and Balkan countries recently met in Italy to talk about their future in the EU, it might’ve been a weird encounter. The UK shouldn't forget its work outside this country. The world won't stop spinning during the negotiations. 

Do you think EU will shrink or grow in the years to come? And does it matter for future EU-enlargement that the UK is on the outside?

edited on Jul 20, 2017 by Tollak Bowitz

Liam Robson Jul 12, 2017

I think the accession countries in the Balkans should probably be glad the UK is leaving if they have their own self-interest in mind! The UK public would not be happy at all with more relatively poor Eastern European nations (Macedonia, Albania) joining, and before long having freedom of movement. There would have been overwhelming political pressure to block their membership - which would have been a shame given how far these countries have come in the past couple of decades.

Thankfully the UK can still fully support these countries in NATO - excellent news that Montenegro became a member last month.

Reply 2

Tollak Bowitz Jul 13, 2017

Well, the UK has historically supported a larger EU, instead of deeper cooperation between existing members. But as you point out, perhaps not as much now as in 2004.. However, just by leaving, the entry of any other country will be pushed back several years, just because of capacity.

Good point about NATO! How will Brexit impact security cooperation, considering EU/NATO relations? and the UN?

Users tagged:

Reply 1

Valeria Vigilante Jul 12, 2017

I think that future membership of the Balkan states does not depend exclusively on the UK or Brexit. Likely, Brexit will have an impact on it; yet, there are issues present within the Balkans hindering their application for EU membership - in terms of political instability, economic and financial insecurity. Also, another enlargement will likely compromise the already precarious equilibrium between the member states.

Reply 1

Tollak Bowitz Jul 13, 2017

I agree. I doesn't exclusively depend on the UK/Brexit. But there might still be 'some impact', if only on how we talk about future enlargement. Compared to five years ago, there's certainly less talk about a growing EU these days.

What if the domestic situation inside several Balkan countries has improved because this was required in order to enter the EU? What would then happen when the carrot in front of you is slowly facing away?..

Users tagged:

Reply 2

Valeria Vigilante Jul 15, 2017

Without a doubt the decreasing hope to become part of te EU might effect the Balkan states negetively. On the other hand, talks on future enlargment have been out on hold as the EU is facing severak significant issues, partly due to the fact that some states became member states when they were not ready in terms of political and economic integation. GIven the status quo, promised integration is not the mostnwise way to act, although the EU needs to be close to the Balkans. The EU might avoid negative effects precisely by doing so.

Reply 1

Tollak Bowitz Jul 16, 2017

Absolutely! I'm sure that was also the aim of the conference in Italy - closer ties are crucial at this stage. And considering the current EU-relationship to Turkey, this couldn't be emphasised more. Here, as elsewhere, transparency might be a good way forwards.

Users tagged:

Reply 0

View all replies (3)

Tom Badley Jul 13, 2017

Why should I care? Brexit is about Britain not the Balkans!

Reply 0

Tollak Bowitz Jul 13, 2017

Britain will still remain part of Europe for the foreseeable future, unless someone manages to physically move it elsewhere. And if all the talk about Brexit makes the future inside the EU more uncertain for Balkan countries that are working towards entering, then who knows what could happen?

Or do you think that Brexit won't affect this process Tom?

Users tagged:

Reply 2

Tricia Gallagher Jul 13, 2017

It certainly feels that way in Glasgow.

Reply 0

flockbrexit Jul 14, 2017

In regards to your questions: Do you think EU will shrink or grow in the years to come? And does it matter for future EU-enlargement that the UK is on the outside?
1) I think the EU needs to start making decisive distinctions between a customs union, a monetary union and a social union (but don't quote me in the exact categories). We've seen that the monetary union has issues because it probably doesn't fulfill optimum currency area criteria, so in that regard the euro area should perhaps shrink rather than grow. However, as with the goal of our initiative, the social aspect should continue to enlarge rather than shrink. Something as revolutionary and important as international/EU citizenship should be protected and expanded at all costs.
2) Maybe? Depending on the result of the negotiations, more countries might threaten to leave if the EU doesn't perform the way they want it to. However, there are still way too many benefits that will encourage others (particularly the Balkans) to try and join.

Reply 1

Tara Hinds 7 months ago

I think after Britain leaves the EU that over time the EU will shrink because other big economies may decide to follow in the footsteps of the UK if the negotiations go well.

Reply 0

Share