Could Britain’s vote to leave prompt other countries to exit the European Union in the years ahead?

Germany Celebrates 20 Years Fall of the Berlin Wall
A domino effect could see others leave the EU (Source: Getty)

Klaus Dingwerth, assistant professor for political science at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland, says Yes.

Facing the UK’s leave vote, other EU member states will not return to business as usual, and talk about a need for renewing the EU will be omnipresent. Fundamentally, the EU also needs a new legitimation narrative – a narrative that is credible, appeals to the basic norms and values held by its diverse citizens, and unites rather than divides its member states. Without good reasons for individuals to identify with Europe, we will see further referendums across the EU and leave campaigns might win elsewhere too.

With UK voters having decided to leave, the EU will not only become a bit weaker in global affairs, but also more inward-looking for the coming years. This will only add to the high level of introspection that has become characteristic of the EU. It is unclear what dynamics the UK vote will trigger in other EU member states before any of these problems can be addressed in a meaningful way.

Dr Brian Klaas, fellow in comparative politics at the London School of Economics, says No.

Brexit is unlikely to produce immediate copycats. Even though there are an array of countries that harbour sizeable and intensely eurosceptic populations, the economic uncertainty and predictable financial fallout from the referendum in Britain is sure to give moderate voters pause before they too walk off the cliff into an unknown abyss. Sure, there will be calls for referenda and reform across Europe, but Britain provides a cautionary tale that will be a deterrent to voters opting to break away from Brussels. Furthermore, European politicians have every incentive to ensure that Britain doesn’t get a sweetheart deal. When other European countries see that leaving the EU comes with costs, they may complain but will remain part of the bloc. And the stakes are even higher for countries that would be leaving not just the EU but also the Eurozone. Finally, unlike the UK, most countries in the EU know they would instantly become minor players on the international stage without Brussels.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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