Europe and the EU

Reports and papers

Brexit: Strategic consequences for Europe

12 Feb 2016 - 08:29
Bron: Moyan Brenn / Flickr

The UK will soon organize an in/out referendum opening the door to a possible Brexit. This report by Peter van Ham examines Brexit’s strategic consequences for Europe, and the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy in particular.

Three different scenarios are foreseen:

  • Scenario One (‘Civilian Power Europe Redux’) envisions that Brexit will truncate Europe’s defence capabilities, resulting in a return to the EU’s founding principles embodied in the ‘Civilian Power Europe’ approach.
  • Scenario Two (‘PESCO Plus UK’) conceives of the development of flexible defence cooperation, as now exists under the provisions on permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), which offers EU member states the opportunity to go ahead with ‘differentiated integration’ on defence matters.
  • Scenario Three (‘Unleashed Continental Europe’) expects Brexit to boost the advance towards a federal EU, including a stronger European Defence Agency aimed at developing a ‘European army’.

The report concludes that, on balance, Brexit will neither help nor harm the EU’s CSDP and that apocalyptic vistas of a less EU-centric Europe are without merit. Still, the EU will truly become a ‘small power’ after Brexit, not just geographically, but economically, politically and militarily.