Still freaking out? — How Brexit might be an opportunity
The dust has settled somewhat, now that 24 hours have passed since our friends in the UK have voiced that they would like to leave the EU. Still, everyone is freaking out. So why should we see this as an opportunity? Let’s have a look at the potential scenarios.
Scenario 1: The UK is worse off (supported by David Cameron since last year, media, elites, academics and pretty much everyone in my Facebook newsfeed, which I would call „the bubble I live in“). What would happen? The British EU-critics would see they were ultimately wrong, support for the EU would rise to get relations back on track and the UK would have set a precedent for other countries currently thinking about leaving. This would ultimately strengthen the EU and offer Britain, which always had a strangely distanced relationship to the EU, a chance to reconsider its position.
Scenario 2: The UK is better off (supported by David Cameron until last year, Donald Trump, but also the people from the English countryside, the elderly and some valued contrarian thinkers out there). What would happen? We now have set a precedent that a central system like the EU doesn’t work as well as we thought, at least not in its current form, since it inhibits growth, welfare and prosperity. Therefore it should be reformed or downsized. It would be a painful lesson for all the supporters of the EU (including myself), but a lesson worth learning. Overall, Switzerland and Norway still seem to survive quite well.
Ultimately it’s an experiment. One, where the remaining EU member states have little to lose and much to gain. The risk for this experiment is mostly on the UK, treading a new path. It’s tragic if things would go wrong, but the risks were clear and after years of intense debate the UK has made a decision. So let’s respect that and see where it takes us. Panic won’t help anyone along the way.
Meanwhile — if we play our cards right — we will have a long overdue debate about the values of the EU, regulations and where to draw the line. Think of the racist remarks of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the Polish government deeply cutting into freedom of speech, the French (and in the past also Germany) repeatedly violating the fiscal compact — all without consequences, all EU member states. This debate is the true opportunity.
But what’s for sure: the world won’t end and neither will Europe. The UK’s leading stock market index FTSE yesterday crashed briefly, but climbed almost all the way up again, ending up pretty much where it was on Tuesday. Tuesday wasn’t so bad.
In that sense: the only constant is change — let’s embrace it.
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