From 2007 with lessons for today:
It could be one of the most momentous, watershed events ever to occur on the European continent.
The time is drawing nearer when Britain will leave the European Union.
How will this development affect life on the Continent? Drastically.
Over the years, Britain has been the biggest hindrance to the unification project proceeding forward. Where France and Germany had ambitious designs for European unity, Britain viewed it as a take-it-or-leave-it economic venture. This fundamental difference, coupled with Britain’s sheer size and political influence, has made London the resident counterweight to Franco-German ambition.
In this role, Britain has found itself the ally of European nations worried by Franco-German ambition. For Europe’s smaller, less influential states, Britain has been both a megaphone for their anxiety and the key ally preventing them from being steamrolled by France and Germany.
The withdrawal of Britain from the European Union will dramatically upset this balance of power.
With this millstone cut loose, expect European integration to move rapidly forward.
Clearly Germany stands to gain the most from Britain’s exit. It is best positioned to fill the resulting colossal power vacuum. It is already the economic hub and political nucleus of the Union; a British withdrawal will consolidate and augment Berlin’s role at the vanguard of this political bloc.
As Britain edges closer to leaving the EU, political pragmatism by German leaders will likely cause them to refrain from expressing too much joy too quickly; pro-integration leaders will likely express regret over Britain’s withdrawal, claiming Britain was an important and much-needed member of the Union.
But don’t let the rhetoric trick you.
The reality is that Germany, together with every other European nation eager to get on with unification, will be thrilled to drop the weighty millstone. Rather than spell the doom of European unification, a British withdrawal will likely spawn a pro-unification renaissance—at least among some EU states.
Watch for Germany, as it works to redraw the balance of power among its neighbors, to establish itself as the absolute, unquestionable leader of Europe. Without London as a hindrance, Europe will quickly become clay in the hands of a Berlin-based potter.
When Britain leaves, every European nation will be faced with the same decision: Submit to Germany as it assumes leadership over Europe, or follow Britain out of the camp.
Today, the EU is comprised of 27 member states; if a British withdrawal precipitates the secession of a few other states, the EU could quickly be pared down to a core group of pro-unification nations that are willing to fall under German leadership.
Over the next few months and years, we must watch Britain closely. The day is quickly approaching when it will no longer be a member of the European Union. When this occurs, a political and strategic volcano will shake the Continent. The political chaos may be so bad that unification will seem utterly impossible.
However, this crisis will be short-lived. With a massive power vacuum needing to be filled and the Continent’s balance of power entirely upended, Germany will assume absolute leadership over the Continent.
Then, without Britain to counter German ambition, the entire strategic and political landscape of Europe will be redrawn by Berlin’s pen!
The withdrawal of Britain will be such a momentous, destabilizing event for Europe that most analysts will probably decry the end of the European unification project. Indeed, there may be a period of confusion and chaos. But ultimately, rather than hinder the integration of Europe, the final cutting loose of Britain as a millstone could be a major event needed to thrust Europe forward as a smaller, more streamlined, more focused and tightly knit superpower. ▪
Full article: What Will Happen in Europe When Britain Leaves (The Trumpet)