How Brexit is changing the EU | The Economist


A stunning result… ….the UK votes to leave… …the EU… …after 43 years, in a historic referendum When the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016… …some predicted it would be the beginning of the end for the EU Brexit can be only positive It could be followed by other countries That it is the start of the end of the European Union as we know it I think there were at least 15 populist parties across Europe… …who advocated a referendum to leave the EU But since then, the EU and the way its members feel about it… …has changed The people are slightly more optimistic now… …maybe Brexit will not happen, we don’t know Could the Brexit referendum have actually benefited the European Union? Andrea Venson is on a mission Today he’s in Milan… …drumming up support for one of Europe’s newest political parties Volt Europa is a pan-European movement… …with political parties in 14 different countries I founded Volt because of Brexit Brexit was the first spark that told me… …that our European values were in danger I figured that something was needed to try to steer the direction that… …the UK but not only Europe, as a whole, was taking And so, the idea of creating something European… …a European political movement We dream about a Europe that is more united, more cohesive… …where countries are not left behind But Andrea has his work cut out for him Across Europe a third of people want to leave the EU… …and Italy has the third highest rate at 44% But he also has good reason to hope… …because since 2016… …optimism about the future of the European Union has grown by over 20%… …and people feel more attached to… …the EU than before the Brexit referendum So what’s going on? Is the European Union really gaining popularity? In some ways I think the EU is stronger because of Brexit Brexit makes the EU feel like safety It makes the EU feel like the organisation that protects them… …from the kind of chaos that ensues when you try to leave And that really changes people’s attitudes towards what Europe is doing Even the most Eurosceptic political parties are singing a different tune I can remember Marine Le Pen appearing at a press conference… …just after the British referendum result and on the wall behind her… …was a poster of two hands breaking free of shackles… …and it said “Brexit, next France” Long live the republic, long live France If you look at what Marine Le Pen argues today… …I think she has almost done a sort of U-turn because… …what she is trying to advocate in France is not so much a Frexit… …than a reforming the EU from within It’s a different sort of Euroscepticism because… …it’s not about leaving Europe, it’s about transforming Europe and trying to… …create a sort of Europe that she and her nationalist friends think… …suits their agenda better I think there were at least 15 populist parties across Europe, as of 2016… …who advocated a referendum to leave the EU… …or just advocated leaving the EU Maybe one or two of them still do, explicitly It’s really almost dropped off the agenda It looked like the Brexit vote would pose an existential threat to the EU… …but it’s not the first time the EU has faced serious problems… …since it was established… …and some of the most serious ones have appeared in the past decade In 2008 the world financial crisis led to recession in Europe Countries like Ireland, Portugal and Greece… …had to be bailed out by the EU… …and were forced to implement austerity measures Unemployment rates hit record highs… …and recessions deepened This debt crisis was soon followed by the migrant crisis of 2015… …when more than 1m refugees and migrants… …streamed into Europe Many of them were fleeing war and chaos in the Middle East No country was hit harder by both these upheavals than Greece When the financial crisis hit, Greece was already… …borrowing quite a lot I think its debt to GDP ratio was over 100%… …and it had a very large deficit Over the period of eight years, GDP fell by something like 27% That has left a lot of people much poorer than they were before A few years later, Greece was on the frontline of the other European crisis …mass migration I think the EU has not quite realised what the cost… …to Greece has been of the migrant crisis that it has had to cope with… …and also not just financially but in many ways economically… …but also socially, having to cope with this Greece I think has dealt with it reasonably well… …given its very limited resources and given the fact that… …through the period of the migrants arriving in Greece it was also… …having to impose very strict austerity in its own population So it hasn’t been easy… …and the EU could have been considerably more helpful A recent poll revealed that Greeks, more so than any other… …European nationality think that their interests… …are not taken into account by the EU Yet Greece hasn’t turned against the European Union Since the Brexit referendum… …the share of Greeks wanting to leave the EU decreased by over 20%… …from almost half to just a third Both the economic and migrant crisis in Europe have receded… …and the EU has survived The people are slightly more optimistic now than before I think the Italians are trying to hope for a better future for the EU The founder of Volt believes there is a historic opportunity There are two alleys in front of us One is to make the EU a true political union… …that can actually support drastic changes in our society… …and the other path is they want to become a loose coalition of states… …without much future And I’m really going to fight strong for the first alternative… …and I see plenty of young people that believe in the same values That ambition for true unity is always going to be difficult The EU is made up of 28 different countries… …each with its own history and interests But what it has shown, is that it has a survival instinct Over the past decade, every time that the EU has faced… …a crisis that looked like it might be an existential crisis… …it’s become abundantly clear that EU leaders… …have the political will to hold the union together That European countries have so much at stake in the survival… …of this union that, ultimately, they do… …what needs to be done to hold it together It’s just that they often do that at the very last minute

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