What impact would a Brexit have on the EU?

A British exit from the EU would be an unprecedented event with uncertain consequences for the future of European integration and cooperation. This Dahrendorf Analysis outlines how a Brexit might change the EU by outlining its possible impact in three scenarios for the EU’s future: an EU that falls apart, continues to muddle through, or integrates further. The conclusion outlines five key factors that will shape how the EU responds.

Download this new Dahrendorf Analyisis by Tim Oliver in our publication section here.

The Impact of Brexit on the EU

 1. EU is weakened2. EU muddles through3. EU more united
Unity of the EU and defining ideas about Europe as a political spaceUK leads the way in EU fragmentation, potentially unraveling EU. Best outcome for EU is a core Eurozone union as one of a series of overlapping organisations in Europe.Tensions remain over intergovernmental and supranational approaches, but Eurozone as heart of EU is strengthened. EU remains Europe’s predominant political organisation.Without one of its most awkward members integration becomes more likely. EU continues to emerge as the dominant political organisation in Europe.
Balance of PowerAdds to confused leadership with no clear leader; small or large states gain; East/South v’s North/West; Eurozone under pressure.German power enhanced, tensions with France remain, but EU remains generally rudderless.Clearer leadership for EU institutions, complimented by enhanced power of Germany.
Political economyMore inward looking, protectionist or divided.Retains strong outward looking agenda thanks to global pressures.A global economic power pushing its own model.
Security and global relationsEU remains a ‘military worm’. Europe/EU is vulnerable to divide and rule by external powers.Fragmented military and security relationships, NATO and bilateral links remain key. EU remains central security actor on many new security challenges and major player in economic power. Continues to rely, with difficulties, on civilian power.EU acts more united with some military power, but never fulfills military potential without UK. NATO remains strong, but potential strong EU dimension. Other global powers continue to develop direct relations with Brussels.
Relations with UKDifficult, UK plays a role in trying to redraw Europe’s geopolitical relationships.UK a close partner, engaged with but political relations strained by continued mutual dependence.UK treated as close but junior partner, similar to attitude of US in US-UK relationship.

The opinions expressed in this blog contribution are entirely those of the author and do not represent the positions of the Dahrendorf Forum or its hosts Hertie School and London School of Economics or its funder Stiftung Mercator.