The recent British referendum, which decided in favor of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, poses serious questions about the future of European integration and the economies in the EU. Amid a sizable inflow of refugees and migrants into the EU, the persistence of economic struggles, a surge in populist movements, and ‘Brexit’, the Council of the European Union meets to make sense of the changes and trace a feasible path for a continuing process of integration in Europe.
On the one hand, the situation in the United Kingdom immediately following the referendum results included the British pound sharply devalued and a spike in unemployment. Almost a year later, the situation looks less bleak, with no economic recession in sight for Britain. However, structural difficulties persist, with companies relocating away from the dynamic financial hub of London and with the prospect of imposition of trade tariffs and migration restrictions once the negotiations to leave are complete.
On the other hand, throughout the continent, populist Eurosceptic parties rally to propose similar referendums and curb the wave of migrants and refugees entering Europe. These movements seem to reject the European Union’s “four freedoms”: the freedom of movement of goods, services, people and capital. The future of the ambitious project of the EU depends on addressing these groups’ grievances--or face repeated ‘Brexits’ that would set back European integration by decades.
Therefore, delegates at the Council of the European Union will face the challenge of gathering solutions to mitigate the economic impact of the British withdrawal and to prevent it from becoming a trend among the other member states. Here, the participants will have the opportunity to analyse the major obstacles that currently undermine the economic bloc taken as a model to the rest of the world, inquiring into the shared internal and external causes for its increasing disunity.