EU president warns against "hysterical reactions" to Brexit vote
France's far-right Front National party is calling for a similar vote
Italy's finance minister warns of a "domino effect"
It’s not us, it’s you.
The decision by the UK to go it alone leaves the jilted European Union with some tough soul searching of its own as it contemplates a new future.
Sure, it’s only losing one of its 28 member nations, but that departure could have huge consequences.
Some warn it could lead to the eventual collapse of the world’s biggest trading bloc as other countries follow suit.
Seismic political changes could be on the horizon too.
Far-right nationalist movements across Europe, already cultivating support among those disillusioned with EU leadership and a rise in immigration, are expected to capitalize on the UK’s decision.
Shellshocked by the landmark vote – the first of its kind by an EU nation – the remaining 27 countries were Friday trying to thrash out a strategy for dealing with it.
Donald Tusk, the EU’s president, called an informal meeting of European leaders, while warning against “hysterical reactions.”
“I am fully aware of how serious, or even dramatic, this moment is, politically,” Tusk said. “There is no way of predicting all the political consequences of this event, especially for the UK.”
Chief among concerns, is the prospect that other nations will follow the UK’s lead.
France’s far-right Front National party was Friday calling for a similar vote, seizing on the UK’s decision as an endorsement on its own anti-Europe and anti-immigration policies – a Frexit to follow the Brexit.
The party’s deputy leader, Florian Philippot, tweeted: “The freedom of the people always ends up winning! Bravo United Kingdom. Now it’s our turn!”
In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party made his own call for a vote via Twitter: “Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum!”
Italy’s Five Star movement has also called for a vote, while the country’s finance minister, Pier Carlo Padoan warned of a “domino effect.”
“For many European voters, Europe appears to be part of the problem and not the solution which is very worrying,” he told CNN. “We need a new model that looks at job creation and solidarity. We need new leadership.
“There is the risk of a domino effect. There’s a widespread feeling that the EU needs to be reformed. Those that feel the EU is part of the solution need to do much more to redesign it.”
CNN’s Jim Bittermann says that the EU has partly become a victim of its own byzantine structure.
“Over these years it has been like watching an opera as the twists and turns of the EU drama have played out through successes and setbacks,” he says. “And like an opera, being in the front row required a great deal of suspended disbelief.
“How could the EU institutions exist with so many levels of governance? With four presidents? With a parliament that had no permanent headquarters? With so many draconian and confusing rules and regulations?
“The answer always seemed to be just don’t ask too many questions, stay positive and keep moving forward… like a shark the union will survive.”
Tumbling worldwide markets in the wake of the UK’s decision will also trigger concerns over the already fragile state of the European Union’s economy.
Threat to Greece?
The Brexit vote could rally support for political parties seeking to quit the EU’s single currency, reviving the threat of a eurozone breakup that first emerged during the 2007 financial crisis.
Financial institutions and analysts have already warned that Brexit could cost jobs and lower incomes across the EU as the trading bloc scrambles to redefine its trading relationship with the UK.
Greece, still reeling from financial crisis, could be among the hardest hit, particularly as it relies heavily on British vacationers who, hurt by a fall in the pound’s value, may stay away.
The prospect of a Grexit – or Greek withdrawal from the eurozone – has long been a concern for Europe with many previously predicting that could alone could trigger an irreversible breakup of the EU.