OK, I’ll get to Vladimir Putin in a moment. The current European Union began to form in the aftermath of World War II. It was part of the so-called New World Order—along with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The rationale was that nations that work together would be less inclined to wage war. Also, as everyone improved economically, cooperation would grow even more quickly. In essence: Strength Through Cooperation.
Whereas the nations of Europe had gone to war many times over the prior centuries, there has been relative peace since WWII. Likewise NATO—which is a mutual-defense pact—has served well in discouraging external attacks. BUT…this is where the United Kingdom leaving the EU might be creating a kink in that New World Order. How so?
UK won’t leave the EU overnight. Rather, there will be an automatic two-year period for it to transition into an independent state, and without any requirements to abide by Brussels’ rules. Great Britain will need to sort-out who will lead it, and what its path forward will be. The UK will also have to negotiate new trade pacts with each of the 27 nations remaining in the EU.
Likewise, the Union will also have to find its own way forward. For instance, as UK leaves, that would reduce the E.U’s Gross Domestic Product by just over 15%. Then, Brussels would have to contend with other member nations—such as the Netherlands or Austria—considering an Exit, as well. That raises the most important question!
Great Britain transacts 50% of its trade with EU nations. That means that Brussels would need to maintain a reasonably warm relationship with London. So, to what extent does the EU punish U.K, as compared to facilitating a comfortable exit? Brussels will surely need every bit of that two-year transition period to determine its best course, viv-a-vis a British Exit. Its important to remember that the E.U’s relative stature would certainly be tarnished as its size diminishes.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been nibbling around Europe’s edges—probing NATO’s, and indirectly E.U’s—strengths and weakness. In fact, Putin had already begun that strategy when he annexed Crimea in early 2014, and began promoting a war in Eastern Ukraine. And let’s not forget about the two Russian-majority regions of Georgia, which it encouraged to break-away in 2008. So far, Moscow has had to contend with a United Europe. But, might the Brexit be signaling a partial unravelling of that United Front? Remember that some EU member nations were not too enthusiastic about the economic sanctions that the Western Alliance had imposed on Russia.
There’s no question that Vladimir Putin seeks to re-establish the old Soviet Empire, of course with him as the Czar. There is considerable anxiety among the countries of Eastern Europe, which were former members of the USSR, and especially those regions that have Russian-majority residents. That is the same rationale that Russia had used to interfere in the affairs of Ukraine. Might the unraveling of the EU solidarity provide more room for The Russian Bear to prowl?
NOTE: How long will it be before Brussels panics and it forces the EU member nations to divert their financial transactions away from London? Doea anyone believe that Frankfurt and/or Paris has the professional and technical capability to assume that role?