Also the institutional development of the EU is an important part of the backdrop for understanding the outcome of the British EU referendum. The criticism of the EU as an undemocratic project , with too great a distance between the population and decision-makers and bureaucrats in Brussels, is neither new nor unique to Britain. The issue of democracy and self-government, for example, was one of several important factors when French and Dutch voters voted against the EU’s proposed constitution in 2005. After the outcome of the British referendum became clear, right-wing populist parties in EU countries such as France, Italy and the Netherlands been out and proposed similar polls in their own countries.
6: Economic and political consequences
Prior to the referendum, many had opinions on how a possible Brexit would affect the British and international economy , and what it would mean for the EU as a political project if the UK withdrew. It is still too early to say what the long-term economic consequences of Brexit will be.
Shortly after the result of the vote , the British pound fell . Recently, Prime Minister May stated that the British economy will be weakened by Brexit, but she also said that the results so far have been less dramatic than many predicted. Several figures suggest the same thing: the result of the referendum has so far not created any significant economic downturn in the UK.
There has also been some tension about what it will mean for the EU that Britain, the union’s second largest economy, goes out. However, this is still an open question – the long-term consequences for the British economy will largely depend on what kind of future accession agreement the UK gets with the EU listed on THEMBAPROGRAMS.
It is also too early to say anything about the political ripple effects of Brexit. The immediate signals from Brussels, and from leading EU countries such as Germany and France, were that they had hoped for a different result, but that they now had to make the best of the situation. A common position has been established among the EU countries that they do not want talks or informal “surveys” at the top political level until the United Kingdom has formally started the withdrawal process.
The UK will not take part in EU discussions where Brexit is a topic, and has also resigned from the rotating presidency of the EU – which the country was scheduled to have in the spring of 2017. But even though Brexit characterizes the political agenda and news coverage in both the UK and EU , much seems to be “business as usual “. US President Barack Obama has assured that “the special relationship” with Britain will continue even after Brexit. When May recently attended the G20 summit in China, there was still some uncertainty about Britain’s relations with other countries after Brexit, not least in the trade field.
7: The way forward – for the UK, the EU and Norway
The United Kingdom has not yet formally withdrawn from the EU – ie has not yet activated Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty , which describes a withdrawal process. Much speculation has been linked to the question of Britain’s future membership of the EU.
The EEA agreement , which links the EFTA countries Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland to the EU, has been mentioned as a possible model , but here there are challenges associated with the UK wanting an exemption from the internal market principle of “free movement of persons”.
Switzerland’s affiliation model , which in short consists of a number of bilateral agreements with the EU, has been mentioned as another model. A British re-entry into EFTA, without necessarily joining the EEA, has also been mentioned as a possible clue.
Canada’s agreement with the EU is another example that arouses interest in the comment fields. However, Theresa May has been clear that she wants a tailor-made solution for the UK rather than copying an existing affiliation model. She has also consistently rejected all indications that Britain will try to reverse the referendum result , delay the withdrawal process, not withdraw at all, or try to find “backlinks” in order to stay in the EU.
The EU rejects that Brexit is a shot in the arm for the European integration project. It is pointed out that the EU has recovered from a number of previous crises, that the United Kingdom was not involved from the beginning and that integration in some areas could be easier without the traditional brake pad Britain.
It has so far been unclear what practical consequences Brexit will have for Norway. On the one hand, the fact that the United Kingdom will become a foreign country could make it more difficult to get through with Norwegian views in Brussels. It is also not a given that Norway and the United Kingdom will always have overlapping interests, for example in matters of fish. On the other hand, the UK’s withdrawal will in some contexts be able to strengthen third countries’ overall position vis-à-vis the EU.
With the United Kingdom on the team, the “foreign countries ” will have a stronger voice . Brexit will also be able to open up opportunities for more comprehensive bilateral cooperation between Norway and the United Kingdom. The co-operation is already close and in-depth in policy areas such as energy, defense, and trade, and perhaps the UK’s new status as “abroad” could create more British interest in Norway and the Northern European dimension.