The EU beyond Brexit: towards a New Democratic Foundation
Working Paper by Antonios A. Nestoras
Brexit shocked the EU. As the new reality of a Britain-less Europe gradually settles in, Brussels and the rest of the 27 capitals need to consider carefully their next steps, because the UK’s decision to leave the Union can either be a breaking point or a wake-up call for the rest of the bloc. First and foremost, the EU-UK divorce is in urgent need of a sensible and realistic approach. Europe cannot afford to become discontent or resentful over Brexit, as this would only pour oil to the fire of centrifugal forces that are testing the limits of European integration. Then, the EU will inevitably have to learn to operate without London. Political decision-making and the legislative procedure itself inside the EU institutions will soon need a new modus operandi. For instance, in terms of economic and financial regulation, the UK has been the most liberal member-state, leading a small but significant bloc of countries that shared the British instinct for laissez-faire – such as the Netherlands and Nordic countries1. But, most importantly, and in order to avoid a domino of ‘exit’ referenda, the EU will have to address several controversial issues that are fuelling Eurosceptic sentiments around the continent. Despite the setback, the only way forward for the EU is to take the unfortunate result of the UK referendum as a last chance for a democratic refoundation that will rejuvenate the European project.