The Geo-economics and Geopolitics of the Brexit Crisis
The many suggested effects of Brexit will take time to manifest in observable fashion in Great Britain, Europe and globally, after the immediate but emotionally charged reactions of markets, politicians and all sorts of analysts. Two considerations have to draw our attention, in my opinion, as Brexit is now being decided. Firstly, nobody should play with the fate of the country just in order to seize power. David Cameron did it, by promising a referendum on a critical issue, at a critical time for Europe: to be or not to be with the rest of Europe. Secondly, as a conservative, when you see the prevailing populism turning to radicalism in Europe, the political elite, engaged in preserving the founding values of a stable continent, should resist any temptation to validate the non-values, ready to destroy the gains of a difficult historical effort, the European Union. David Cameron crossed that line, declaring that the scope of referendum was to extract new concessions from Brussels. He hoped that the sort of things he was afraid of will not happen. In fact, I believe that many who voted for Brexit will reconsider their act later, when it will be too late.
It is true that somebody is happier for Great Britain’s decision, as Russia has always preferred to court dialogue with independent and sovereign countries, but individually, and not with any structure linking them to improve their bargaining position (NATO or the EU). So, the main exercise of analysts should go to the heart of the issue of power shifting in Europe, as two other EU countries, Hungary and Poland, are holding out for a sort of sovereignty in spite of the messages proffered and the values professed when they asked for membership in the Union. The financial and economic effects of Brexit will be overcome as they are less difficult than those entailed by the latest financial crises. Both Great Britain and the rest of the Union are powerful enough to find a suitable way through the divorce proceedings from those perspectives. But we have to acknowledge the combined effects of the new evolving geo-economics on the continent and the shift in the geopolitics. They are induced both by the wrongdoings in Brussels, including by who is imposing what on whom, and the increased excitement in other Member States (France, Italy, Netherland… and the list can continue) to try for an exit referendum.
The dual franco-germanic engine lost the momentum their symbiosis provided for the well-functioning of the EU: Germany is powerful economically, but France has been losing its political influence. That now weak engine will not enjoy the clever support of Great Britain for equilibrium anymore. North-South forces in EU will lead to further divisions and new tensions that must be sorted through, irrespective of the choice for two or more speeds for integration. We recognize that the convergence process within the Union has stalled. Solidarity and cohesion mean little without the political will of the Member States behind them. This state of facts is aggravated by the widening divergence on migrants and refuges, combined with the horror of terrorism.
The real Brexit crisis is a geopolitical one, less studied for now, with European and global consequences. Brexit is also a shock to our fundamental thoughts and efforts for a United Europe which produced the longest period of peace on a continent that has been the source of two devastating world carnages. We are facing, from now on, a Europe surely entering a prolonged period of uncertainty. It is more than possible that Europe will change fundamentally and not just because of Brexit. Why? Because of all of us – since our comfortable security wore down the impetus for the hard task of a United Europe and the core sense of its necessity.
It is time for Romania to be an active contributor to that change and to choose clearly between a liberal European path and a Europe good only for discretionary redistribution of others’ wealth. While the former path requires sustained efforts for continuous development, the latter means moving from the healthy competition for sound economic development to a quarrel over collected funds. The latter path is the cause of the burgeoning populism and radicalism in Europe, as higher expectations cannot be accomplished without hard work.
Brexit for Romania is the moment of necessary awakening for its stature as Member State of the EU. It means to grasp fully the advantages of its status and its professed intent to become a more active participant within the EU must become an everyday fact of political life.