This has most likely been asked and answered in the myriad threads on this subject currently bubbling on the board, but if so I missed it and I didn’t want to hijack any of those by asking this. But, well, why does the EU seem in such an all fired hurry for the UK to invoke article 50? Seems to me that the Brits themselves are unsure what they want to do or how to proceed. It’s at least marginally possible that they will, in fact, NOT proceed at this point. The whole Brexit thing has been a disaster, not just to the people in the UK but has hurt global markets (last I checked the DOW was down nearly a thousand points…a trillion dollar drop, basically, wiping out the gains for the year and then some). There is a lot of talk about Leave people back peddling on their promises and assertions, on petitions for a new vote, and on the seemingly very real breakup of the UK itself, since it’s possible Northern Ireland and Scotland will demand independence…in fact, I saw this argument used earlier for why a new vote might be viable, since obviously something that could cause a break up of the UK really needs to be thought through.
So, assuming any of the above is true, wouldn’t it make more sense for the EU to play it cool and see how things transpire? I mean, they really don’t WANT the UK to leave, after all, and by playing it cool it seems to me they might actually get that outcome without doing anything (and without seemingly putting any outside pressure or influence on what is a hot button topic in the UK right now). So, why do they seem to be pushing the UK to invoke article 50 of the Lisbon treaty (which they can’t do from the outside…the UK has to invoke it on their own)?? What am I missing here??
Sure, I even mentioned that in the OP. I suppose they could be looking at that, though to me it looks like the markets are going to be bad regardless, at least for a while. I guess they are thinking that getting all the lumps out of the way quickly will have an effect on stabilizing the market and the Euro, though it seems to me that they are as likely to further spur other EU countries who have home grown folks who want to leave the EU, while maybe letting the UK hash stuff out might actually cause them to rethink this whole Brexit thing…which might also have the effect of quieting those movements in those other countries.
Numerous treaties and agreements need to be renegotiated with the EU. Until Article 50 is triggered, the UK is in a relatively stronger bargaining position. After that, a 2-year countdown starts, at the end of which all matters will have to be settled or there will be a disorderly exit, throwing all British economic affairs into uncertainty and turmoil. Obviously each party in a negotiation wants to be in a stronger position, so there it is.
There seem to be two schools of thought in Europe:
One is that the UK leaving the EU is painful, and can lead to a domino effect that emboldens the populist anti-globalist parties across the EU like the National Front in France and the Congress of the New Right in Poland. These parties would try to pull their respective nations out of the EU, and in order to dissuade them, some EU ministers want the process of a UK exit as painful as possible for the UK, pour encourager les autres, to prevent other nations and voters from thinking that a withdrawal from the EU might be a good idea. The Eu might weather the UK’s withdrawal, but if France also left the Union, it would be defunct.
The second school of thought, which as far as I understand is championed by Angela Merkel, is that the UK will continue to be in close association with the EU, even if not technically a member, much like Norway. This school would like the transition to be mild and smooth, with few to no attempts to ‘punish’ the UK for leaving. They believe the EU is so closely interdependent already that further nations attempting to exit would be unlikely, and even if they were to attempt to exit, they would be so caught in the web of agreements and treaties that make up the framework of Europe even independent of EU membership, that exiting the EU will do very little to disturb the status quo. They want to negotiate a transition that would keep most of the relationships between the UK and EU intact.
But what exactly do they mean when they say they want it to happen “fast”? This week? This month? This year?
What the EU doesn’t want is for the current uncertainty to persist longer than it needs to. On the other hand, as long as they don’t invoke article 50 there’s still a chance that the UK government doesn’t go through with the whole thing.
Of course no UK politician wants to touch any of this with a 3-meter pole. I wonder how many of them now wish they’d have left this can of worms unopened.
I don’t imagine anyone in Europe’s saying this out loud, but there’s a noticeable proportion of the UK that’s been whinging about “Europe” and how bad it is, and how all it does is get in the way, and how the British are OBVIOUSLY superior to all those bloody furriners since the EU was the Common Market (ie, well over 40 years now). I wouldn’t be surprised if the EU power structure is simply pissed off with them, and there’s a healthy dose of ‘well, FINE, GO AHEAD THEN, fuck your economy and see how you like it THEN!’
That’s not a very polite thing to admit to in public though.
I’m not an international finance expert. But I imagine a situation like this creates opportunities for taking advantage. There are probably things a nation can do that would create short-term benefits at the price of long-term costs. A nation that knows it’s leaving the union could seek out those benefits with the awareness that it won’t be around to pay the costs. So the union may be seeking to keep the window for this kind of thing as small as possible.
Because in the unlikely event that the UK did decide not to act on the Brexit referendum and remained in the EU, would we just be setting ourselves up for a rerun of this in five or ten years time? The UK has been periodically agonising over continued participation in the EU on and off for years, and has a history of demanding rebates, opt-outs and what-not. And despite have got most of these - it has a budget rebate, it’s not part of the Schengen zone, it hasn’t adopted the euro - it’s now voted to leave the EU.
I think you can only play brinksmanship for so long. At this stage the EU is in a mood to lance the boil. Continued faffing around by the UK is destablising to the Union, and there seems no likelihood that letting them scramble back up the cliff that they have just walked off will put an end to the faffing about. Those in the UK who voted to leave - which is most of them, remember - would make sure of that.