Judy Asks: Can the EU Survive Without Britain?
Of course the EU can survive without Britain; the question is what kind of Europe it will be. Will it find the drive to reinvent itself for the twenty-first century, capable of addressing citizens’ concerns about the future and helping shape a changing world? Or will it wither into an inward-looking rump EU focused on defending past glories and pursuing half-baked initiatives for short-term gains, doomed to decline? This is what is at stake.
The British departure accelerates the EU’s need to reinvent itself but is not its cause. Believing that removing the British obstacle will set European integration in motion is fallacious.Brexit can be a transformational moment only if the EU seizes the opportunity to understand the causes of today’s crises, rather than focus on the symptoms, and rethink the terms of integration.
Current European leaders seem to be dodging these issues. All the signs in the run-up to the first brainstorm among the 27 remaining member states in Bratislava on September 16 to discuss the future of Europe without the UK suggest that more muddling through will be on the menu for the year to come. European elites do not have the mandate from citizens to rejuvenate the EU; the upcoming electoral cycle is unlikely to allow for any bold initiative; and the sentiments that led a majority of British people to vote to leave the EU are shared by many across the Channel, making any path toward reinventing the EU mired by pitfalls.