June 24, 2016

The United Kingdom's Withdrawal from the European Union:
Possible Consequences and Prospects


Yuriy Radkovets

Without exaggeration, the results of the referendum in the UK on June, 23 on the country's exit from the European Union (Brexit) have become the most resonance event in the development of the situation in the world, Europe and around Ukraine. In fact, the event has become the biggest challenge to the EU's cohesion and vitality since the establishment of the Organization and, according to leading experts, will have extremely negative consequences of military, political and economic nature for both Europe and the United Kingdom, and for our country.

For example, the UK's leaving the EU can “trigger” the chain reaction of similar demarches from other countries who are dissatisfied with the EU's rigid policy in the maintenance of the positive development of the European economy (including through fiscal austerity and restrictions on social spending) . First of all, this applies to Greece, Spain, Italy and Hungary, where we have the most powerful Euroskeptic moods.

In turn, a consequence of the above-mentioned processes will be a deep political crisis in the European Union, due to a possible reformation of the organization or its complete disintegration. At this, the European Union's main programs (projects) (including those of the Common Security and Defence Policy and of “Eastern Partnership”) can be terminated or significantly restructured. In fact, further expansion of the EU will stop.

Taking into consideration the simultaneous membership of the overwhelming majority of EU countries in NATO, we should also expect certain weakening of the unity of the Alliance (this issue will be given the most attention at the upcoming NATO summit at July 8-9 in Warsaw). So, the main component of ensuring defense security of Europe will be also undermined. This problem becomes particularly critical in terms of the strategic partnership between the USA and the UK, as NATO's “backbone”.

These trends will find themselves in the majority of European countries. In particular, despite the approximate equality in the UK of the number of supporters and opponents of the country's membership in the EU, the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union will lead to serious political split in the British society. Moreover, the fact that majority of the population of Scotland and Northern Ireland are for the UK's membership of the EU, can cause also a regional split of the country (especially in view of sufficiently serious nationalist sentiments in these regions of the UK).

At the same time, the UK's leaving the EU will be a powerful factor in strengthening positions of Euroskeptic, left-wing, nationalist, separatist and pro-Russian (!) forces in other EU countries. In particular, almost inevitable will be the revitalization of the Basque Nationalist Party in Spain, “Northern League” in Italy, “Alternative for Germany” in Germany, the party “Jobbik” in Hungary, as well as the party “National Front” in France, whose leader, Marine Le Pen after the announcement of the results of the referendum has managed to declare the desirability and the need for France's leaving the European Union. Such moods and plans are not excluded also in the Netherlands, Sweden and several other European countries.

Along with the aggravation of political problems in the European Union and individual EU member states, experts expect significant economic losses within the framework of the Organization. In particular, according to European experts, the UK's only provisional losses will be about 100 billion pounds, equivalent to more than 130 billion US dollars. At this, about one million British citizens could lose their jobs. In turn, the previous losses of European banks could reach 100 billion Euros. Evidence of the forecast's being correct, is today's drop in the value of the pound sterling by 10 % against the US dollar and Euro.

In fact, we may forget now about the implementation of the EU's projects of construction of new transport and energy corridors bypassing the Russian Federation. Due to this, Russia will be able to maintain its leading positions in the energy market of the EU.

The European Union's problems associated with the United Kingdom's leaving the Organization, are bound to be used by the regime of V. Putin for its own purposes, first of all in the interests of further weakening the unity of the EU and NATO, creation of preconditions for lifting of sanctions against Russia, strengthening Russian positions in Europe, as well as blocking the processes of European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine and other former Soviet countries.

To this end, the Kremlin will use the whole potential of pro-Russian lobby in the EU countries. Capabilities of this lobby have already been demonstrated in Moscow both, in terms of the positive for Moscow results of the referendum in the UK, and in the context of blocking by France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden of previous EU intentions regarding the decision to extend sanctions against Russia on June 24, 2016, at the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the EU member countries.

In fact, the results of Brexit “freed Moscow's hands” to achieve its strategic goals with regard to Ukraine. Proof of this was another activation of Russia's military operations in the Donbas, namely an increase in the number of attacks on the positions of the ATO forces and civilian settlements from 20-30 to more than 50 times per day. At the same time, the leadership of the Russian Federation and the leaders of the self-proclaimed republics in the Donbas have put forward an ultimatum to Ukraine on the actual impossibility of the cessation of hostilities in the conflict zone unless Kyiv recognizes the “DPR” and “LPR” and holds elections in the occupied territories before July 14, 2016 on Russian conditions (i.e., before the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Donbas and returning to Ukraine the control over the eastern section of the state border).

These circumstances will have extremely negative consequences for the national interests and security of Ukraine:

Firstly, Ukraine actually loses the support from both the European Union and its most consistent member — the United Kingdom — in putting pressure on Russia by maintaining and leading sanctions policy against it by the EU;

Secondly, Ukraine could be left on its own face to face with the Russian federation and its puppets' armed aggression (in the next few years, Europe will have too much on its hands to care about Ukraine);

Thirdly, virtually nullified will be the prospects, first of all, of European and possibly, of Euro-Atlantic integration of our State (Euroskeptic and EuroAtlanticskeptic moods will widely spread in Europe);

Fourthly, Ukraine actually loses a chance to get alternative sources of energy carriers from Europe, and thus — to get really independent from Russia;

Fifthly, in the confrontation the EU-Russia, Russia leads, and therefore we should expect Russia's increased pressure on post-Soviet countries (including Ukraine) regarding their joining the Eurasian Union — the main competitor (according to its ideologist — V. Putin) of the European Union.

Under such circumstances, the only reliable ally and strategic partner of Ukraine is the USA and other European countries that consistently and persistently continue a firm and inflexible policy towards V. Putin's regime and remain one of the most powerful forces in consolidation of the West in the context of countering Moscow's aggressive “hybrid” policy towards the weakened united Europe and Ukraine.

In any case, Ukraine needs to adjust its positions (taking into consideration the results of the referendum in the UK) on many issues of pro-European national policy and practice, and in anticipation of Moscow's (and its satellites and puppets') most likely plans and activities.

And it should be done as soon as possible!

Do not relax!

So far time works to Ukraine's benefit!