What is Brexit?

By Mavish Khan 

The European Union (EU) began to keep Germany and France from another war. World War II marked the third time the two countries had fought in less than a century.

“It started small as the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951.  The idea being to create a common market for the two resources, which were often at the heart of the conflicts between France and Germany and can be found in abundance in the Alsace region, which had gone back and forth between the two countries depending upon the outcomes of their conflicts, ” said Rowan University professor of political science Joshua Martineau.

Being part of the EU means that there is a free flow of goods and people between borders of the 28 member countries (27 now that the United Kingdom will be leaving). This means any products made in one country can be sold in another and most services like law or medicine can work in all countries. Most countries let their residents come an go with other member countries without visas and passports. All countries are or have pledged to use the euro as their currency.

Brexit is the decision that came to be through a referendum on June 2016 in UK to leave the EU. 51.9% voted “Leave”, where 48.1% voted “Remain”. 

“The UK has always been kind of one foot in and one foot out of the EU, refusing to adopt the common currency or enter fully participate in the Schengen Area (an agreement that allowed for free movement of residents between the various countries).  The principal reason the UK opted out is because of fears of immigration, weather it be the idea that immigrants were taking British jobs or might be terrorists.  Those in charge of the exit campaign also argued it would save the UK money by not having to pay into the EU.  However, the accuracy of this claim is highly debatable,” said Martineau.

On March 29, 2017 Prime Minister Theresa May of the UK triggered Article 50 which began the official process for Britain to leave the EU. It should take no longer than two years for the process to happen. There is no way back unless all member states agree to have them back.

As of now, the future is unclear.  According to Martineau and Professor James Ronan (also from Rowan University) there is a lot to watch. For the EU, they will likely be alright as long as France and Germany stay. But in the upcoming French elections there is a campaign to have their own Frexit. Scotland has a new sentiment for independence since they voted overwhelming to stay in the EU. Other member countries will watch. If Britain is successful they may follow, if not they will stay. It will be interesting to see how other countries deal with Britain economically regarding trade and how Britain’s economy does as well.

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