What would be the aftermath of Brexit on the other EU countries? How would European countries react?

While the EU officially hopes the Brits will vote to remain In today, its member states could have diverging attitudes towards Britain. Here is an overview of some of the EU members’ potential reactions to an EU-UK divorce.


First of all, according to Politico, a lot of European nations fear that Brexit would lead to calls for other popular votes in their respective countries. This is true for Sweden, with the “Eurosceptic Swedish Democrats party calling for a referendum on migration, which has been a controversial issue in the country. Many fear a Brexit could fuel their demands.” We see the same happening in Denmark: ‘the Danish People’s Party at 17 percent is pushing for its own referendum on EU membership, which could be fueled by a Brexit.” In the Netherlands as well, a Leave vote would “give the right-wing Freedom Party - with the support of 18 percent of the electorate in opinion polls - the push it needs to call for a referendum on membership.” The same goes for Vienna, where far-right FPÖ “party leader Harald Vilimsky has already called for Austria to hold its own referendum on EU membership.” Finally, the Czech Republic is yet “another country […] where forces on the political Left and Right are pushing for a referendum on EU membership.”

In Italy as well, there are eurosceptic parties on both ends of the political spectrum. "“Should the Leave option succeed, populists or Eurosceptics […] may try to replicate the referendum” said Roberto Basso, a spokesperson for the Italian finance ministry.” He went on explaining that “Italy would take a hard line on the benefits the U.K. could win outside of the EU club,” still according to Politico.

Moreover, Brexit would have a clear economic impact on the other country of the British Isles, namely Ireland. The Irish Government clearly stated it was in favour of Britain remaining in the EU. “We want the UK, as our friend, closest neighbour and partner, to remain a member of a reformed EU.” However, “Ireland will have a clear plan in place to deal with the implications of a UK vote to Leave. […] The key priority for [the Irish] Government will be to protect and promote Ireland’s key interests in the event that the UK votes to leave.” Finally, for those wondering if Ireland could follow Britain’s lead and in turn leave the Union, the answer is clear. "No. Irrespective of the outcome of the UK referendum on its membership of the EU, Ireland [...] will remain a committed Member State of the EU and a full member of the Eurozone.”

What about France? Well, “Paris will push to ensure that consequences are felt swiftly and severely to avoid emboldening anti-EU forces elsewhere in the bloc,” according to Politico. ““If we say you are outside the EU but can keep all of the advantages, access to the single market without any solidarity, it’s a terrible message for the rest of the EU,” said a senior EU diplomat.” What’s more, it is crucial for the French to send a strong message, “as the anti-EU National Front [is] positioned to make a strong showing in the country’s 2017 presidential election.” As to the post-Brexit UK-EU relationship, France “hopes that Britain would adopt Norway’s model of trade with the Union, under which it accepts all EU regulations including the free movement of workers.”

In Germany, Brexit would not only cause a potential blow to EU sentiment, but it could mean political isolation for Berlin. In the New York Times, Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform, declared that “without the counterweight of Britain, “the German problem becomes more acute.” Rome, Paris and Warsaw fear that without Britain as a countervailing force in the bloc, Germany would become too powerful. The Germans themselves fear that an anti-German alliance would form.” Furthermore, talking to Wake Up Europe’s Annalisa Piras, Sophia Besch, research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, said that, despite various claims that Germany is waiting for the referendum results to “push for progress towards a European Army,” “there was a lot of excitement over not a lot of news.” She explained that “the coalition government put in its Treaty that Germany is committed to an EU Army ‘in the long-term’. And the worst thing you can do for a political project is to say that you want it ‘in the long-term’, because it means no one is concretely working on an implementation plan.”

In Politico, Poland’s case is also mentioned. “Brexit could have a huge impact on Polish politics and its economy: Around 1 million Polish currently live and work in the U.K., and some fear they will have to return home looking for employment. A survey taken last week by Polish pollster IBRiS found that if there is a Brexit vote, 47 percent of Poles living in Britain would want to stay in the U.K., though 26 percent would return to Poland if their efforts to stay failed. […] EU diplomats said Warsaw will want to go easy when negotiating new trade relationships with the U.K., and would possibly push for a special or associate relationship with the EU in exchange for rights for its citizens still living in Britain.”

The last country to be mentioned here is Spain. Politico explains that two major issues are at stake there: Gibraltar and Catalonia. With regards to Gibraltar, Madrid “has said that in the event of a Brexit it will allow for market access as long as the U.K. offers joint sovereignty over the Rock — which is not likely to happen.” Therefore, people there “clearly support staying in the EU, out of fear that a Brexit would lead Spain to tighten border controls.” Finally, “there’s fear a Brexit could give momentum to the region of Catalonia in its drive to split from Spain - especially if a Leave vote leads Scotland to hold another referendum on quitting the U.K.”

From time to time we'll share exclusive interview clips (including never-seen-before footage), the most incisive blog posts and the most interesting dispatches from our event organisers as they take the europe debate to the furthest, biggest, smallest, weirdest, most unusual places around europe and beyond.

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