Everyone has heard about BREXIT. It’s either from the news, social media or normal conversation between a person and another. But what is BREXIT?
BREXIT is the abbreviation for British Exit in which on June 23rd, 2016, 17.4 million UK population voted to become the first country to leave one of the most robust Economic Integrated Area — The European Union.
This is BREXIT: an Introduction.
We began to look back at History. 60 years ago, after the two world wars that were concentrated in Europe have caused destruction in economic, social, political, and international relations between countries. A theory emerged: states will be less likely to fight each other if they form stronger economic ties or dependence. Therefore, in 1957, the 6 Founder countries of the EU created the European Economic Community (ECC) in the form of Common Market which allows free trade, implementation of the European law to each country, and free movement of factors of production which includes labour, capital, land, and enterprise. Britain tried to join twice in 1963 and 1967, but, French president Charles de Gaulle blocked the motion due to trust issues. 6 years later, in 1973, the UK officially joined the ECC.
However, two years after joining, the UK held their first referendum to decide whether they wanted to stay or leave the ECC, but obviously, the majority agreed to remain in the ECC.
As mentioned, the EU or formerly known as ECC is one of the most substantial economic integration in the world. By creating a unified group, we have to look no further than the skyrocketing growth of GDP per capita. The three biggest economies in the EU: Germany, UK, and France has the double of GDP per capita compared to Brazil or even South Africa who does not form a common market with the agreement of free trade.
Nevertheless, no one could ever accurately forecast what would happen in the future. In 2008, when the Global Financial Crisis hit the European countries, most of them had to deal with enormous debt to save their economy. One of them was Greece who had to receive help from the EU countries for the bailout, in condition of spending cuts and higher taxes to stabilise its economy. This was followed by a migrant crisis, as millions of refugees fled from their countries due to war and terrorist attacks. These uncertainties and economic difficulty in Europe contribute as factors that prompt the UK to leave.
However, the development of the eventual BREXIT was most likely caused by the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. Despite making the EU greater and stronger, the meeting also published “Article 50”, which is a set of procedure for a member of the state to withdraw voluntarily from the EU. Seeing that there is a possibility to back off from this union, the UK made their step.
Why are they leaving the EU? The answers are the following: Economy, Sovereignty, and Immigration.
Firstly regarding the economy, the UK felt that the membership fee that they have to pay to the EU annually, cost them a lot that could have been used to subsidise the National Health Service (NHS) or Public Hospitals. Moreover, the UK also wanted to be independent of its economy as they felt that their local farmers and fishermen need to be protected. The reason behind this is because as the EU is a form of free trade, the UK could easily import goods or services including foods and commodities from other EU countries that sell it at a lower price. Therefore, the local fishermen and farmers who do not have the competitive and absolute advantage over the other EU countries had to suffer. This is something they want to protect. Lastly, the UK also feel the need to open their economic integration with other countries in the world, except the EU. This is somehow complicated as EU is a form of Common Market, in which an EU country could not make trade agreements with Non-EU country unless the deal is agreed and implemented on the whole 28 EU countries.
Secondly, the UK also raised the problem of sovereignty. Brexiteers invoke a perfectly respectable theory of democracy in that a state’s laws should depend solely on the wishes of its inhabitants. Brexiteers argued that they have let supreme law-making and controlling power pass to people they do not elect, and they cannot be removed as the EU legislation is not subject to British elections, and, therefore, is undemocratic. This is the reason why the Vote Leave Campaign slogan is “Take Back Control” as the UK wants to take back control of its laws.
Lastly, immigration is one of the critical issues in Brexit. Compared to other European Countries, the United Kingdom has the highest population density. Because of the number of immigrants migrating to the UK is increasing, some would believe that the immigrants are taking the British people’s jobs and causing the wage cuts. Therefore, by leaving the EU, the UK could impose limits on immigration and protect their national interest. Apart from that, the immigrants from the war-countries have also fled to several numbers of countries in Europe. Some argue that this caused several terrorist attacks that have happened in European countries like France. The fear of terrorism also caused the UK to protect its border, not only from the EU citizens but from the whole world.
So, what is the progress or the next stage of BREXIT? What are the complications or effects to the UK, EU, or even other countries like Indonesia? More on BREXIT: The Complications