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EU Leaders Must Keep Calm and Carry On

Brexit Puzzle Pieces

My latest for RealClearWorld, “EU Leaders Must Keep Calm and Carry On,” has posted.

The Intro and Conclusion will serve as an excerpt:

Now that we’ve had time to let the dust settle after the Brexit vote, it’s becoming clear that the early panic was an overreaction. The British public is already showing seller’s remorse and leaders who supported the Leave option are seeing their fortunes fall. There’s no reason that the United Kingdom can’t remain tightly integrated into Europe, and a there is a very good chance that they’ll wind up staying in the European Union after all. That is, unless EU leaders push the Brits to take the worst course in a fit of pique.

[…]

While the Europeans and Brits will ultimately have to sort this out for themselves, American leadership is also vital here. President Barack Obama has wisely backed off some over-the-top warnings ahead of the vote that the UK would go to “back of the queue” if it left the Union. In the aftermath of the Leave vote, Obama assured the British people that, “One thing that will not change is the special relationship between our two countries.” He went further, noting that we should “keep in mind that Norway is not a member of the European Union, but Norway is one of our closest allies,” adding that if “Great Britain ends up being affiliated to Europe like Norway is, the average person is not going to notice a big change.”

Absent a complete reversal on Brexit, a Norway-like status for the UK is what everyone should want. It’s not only the best but the most likely outcome if only EU leaders stop behaving like pouting children.

Most of what’s in between, alas, is evidence that EU leaders are behaving like pouting children.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    Whether or not Obama was wise to make a warning, it was hardly “over the top”. We are in the middle of huge trade negotiations that are taxing the State department. if Brexit happens our limited resources should continue to be directed at those and if there is any changes necessary with the EU due to Brexit, that should come first. Britain is going to have to renegotiate dozens or hundreds of treaties with us and with dozens of other countries. It’s only realistic to think that will not be in place in a two year period.

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  2. grumpy realist says:

    May I point out that it’s not the EU that is acting like a bunch of spoiled children? Or do people regularly insist that they can leave a club and not pay membership dues all the while grabbing the benefits of belonging to said club? Because that’s what the English want to do.

    Also, the EU should just give up and negotiate with Queen Elizabeth directly. It doesn’t look like anyone else will be left around to work with, what with all the nope can’t do it, sorry I resign have to wash my hair instead we’re getting from the Brexit politicians.

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  3. Stonetools says:

    The experts can correct me if I am wrong but my understanding is that Norway’s deal is exactly like UKs current deal except that they don’t have the power to vote in EU elections. In particular they have to comply with EU freedom of movement rules. How is that an improvement on what the UK has now? I think that UKIP and their allies wouldn’t stand for a Norway deal precisely because of the immigration issue.
    I think whatever happens is going to be a lot messier than the Norway option.

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  4. cian says:

    It’s not only the best but the most likely outcome if only EU leaders stop behaving like pouting children.

    James,

    The problem for the EU is there are lots of little UKIPs all over Europe at the moment and at the first sign of the UK getting a deal that allows them to stay in while also changing the rules for themselves alone, and everyone, as you say, will scream like children for their share. While there are many problems with the EU, its central reason for existing is to keep peace in a region of the world where, prior to 1945, continuous and bloody war was always, in nearly every decade going back to the middle ages and beyond, the absolute norm. I’m not sure what the European right and UKIP want,. Unemployment in the UK stands at just 5%, so it is likely that everyone who wants a job has a job, including those in the North of England who have allowed their blind hatred of the ‘other’ to inflict a most grievous wound on the rest of the region.

    Remind me again, who exactly are the babies?

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  5. Pch101 says:

    Most of what’s in between, alas, is evidence that EU leaders are behaving like pouting children.

    Is that how you would have described Abe Lincoln’s response to the secession of the South?

    Populists like to whine and break s**t, and that’s what the populist voters of the UK have done. This is essentially the Tea Party movement with an English accent, served with the obligatory side order of racism.

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  6. PJ says:

    @Stonetools:

    The experts can correct me if I am wrong but my understanding is that Norway’s deal is exactly like UKs current deal except that they don’t have the power to vote in EU elections. In particular they have to comply with EU freedom of movement rules. How is that an improvement on what the UK has now? I think that UKIP and their allies wouldn’t stand for a Norway deal precisely because of the immigration issue.
    I think whatever happens is going to be a lot messier than the Norway option.

    It’s even worse, since, for example, the UK was allowed to opt-out of the Schengen Area. If it gets the same deal as Norway, it would have to join. The UK, or what’s left of it, would get to keep its own currency, but if, in the future, it rejoins the EU, I would assume it would get the same deal as the countries joining now and would have to accept the Euro.

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  7. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    I think that UKIP and their allies wouldn’t stand for a Norway deal precisely because of the immigration issue.

    This seems to be pertinent 😉

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  8. JKB says:

    @grumpy realist: Also, the EU should just give up and negotiate with Queen Elizabeth directly.

    What good would that do? The British monarchy cannot bind the people. In Britain, Parliament is sovereign. Has been formally since the 17th century and informally even longer.

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  9. Pch101 says:

    @Stonetools:

    This is what happens when semi-reasonable people (in this case, those who want to modify the UK-EU relationship) and wingnuts (in this case, the Britain Stands Alone/ No Polish Bus Drivers xenophobes) form political alliances. As soon as they get something that they want, the wingnuts taste blood and demand more, while their more normal allies who had hoped to use them wonder how this could have ended so badly.

    You really need to keep the crazies completely away from the affairs of state, otherwise it will backfire. Trying to cynically use them for ones own convenience will eventually catch up to you; they are unreliable allies who will turn on you in a heartbeat.

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  10. bill says:

    my left-wing friends all had a major hissyfit when this happened…..you’d think they’d just cost them a bunch of money or something crazy. then of course you get the young/dumb crowd clamoring that it’s “racist” or something insane like that. yeah, it’s racist to not want some other country telling you how to behave and how much you need to pay them to tell you that….schools are failing miserably at educating kids- and parents seemed to have given up.
    and of course the oh so wonderful “globalists” had a meltdown too- must have bet heavily that the brits would vote to stay and take it on the cheek.
    but here we are a week+ later and the world still turns, the stock market bounced back ……and we’re all still racists.

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  11. Dave Schuler says:

    They aren’t statemen they’re technocrats and the EU is apparently a sort of Ponzi scheme to boot. How else to explain the feverish need to expand? I can only speculate that the bigger the EU, the greater their personal power and higher their compensation.

    In other words for the technocrats in Brussels, keeping the sheep in the fold is a matter of life and death. That’s why the automatic reaction was to punish the British—to encourage the others. I don’t think they have a Plan B.

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  12. PJ says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    That’s why the automatic reaction was to punish the British

    Punish the British? In what way?
    The UK will most likely get the same deal as Norway if it wants to be a part of the inner market.
    The UK may have to wait when it comes to renegotiate treaties etc.
    The UK had a lot of special deals, it voted out, the EU didn’t throw it out.

    Is that punishment?

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  13. Pch101 says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Are you aware that the US began with 13 states and now has 50? The place must be run by a bunch of technocrats.

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  14. Davebo says:

    Absent a complete reversal on Brexit, a Norway-like status for the UK is what everyone should want. It’s not only the best but the most likely outcome if only EU leaders stop behaving like pouting children.

    There’s only one group of pouting children here and it’s not the EU James. Once Scotland bails, and they will, Britain will finally become the bit player they really should have been all along. The north sea is drying, but it’s not dry yet.

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  15. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius: Uhhhhhh…yeah…

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  16. Dave Schuler says:

    @PJ:

    I was quoting EU President Jean-Claude Juncker.

    @Pch101:

    Are you aware of how decentralized the U. S. remains 200 years later?

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  17. Pch101 says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Are you aware of how decentralized the U. S. remains 200 years later?

    Not as decentralized as is the EU.

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  18. PJ says:

    @Pch101:

    Not as decentralized as is the EU.

    The EU also lacks the massive wealth redistribution that the US has.

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  19. Pch101 says:

    @PJ:

    I don’t think that Dave realizes that the most enthusiastic supporters of EU centralization are aspiring to turn the EU into a United States of Europe, i.e. something that is more centralized and is closer to the US model than what they have now.

    At this point, the EU is more similar to a confederation, which is the system that the US dumped early on for a more centralized federal system.

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  20. al-Ameda says:

    As far as I can tell, the only people guilty of mal-statesmanship with respect to Brexit, are British conservative politicians. I fail to see how non-British EU politicians have responded with anything more than justified disgust concerning Britain’s conservative government.

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  21. Andrew says:

    Substitute “British” for “American”.

    “Now, there’s one thing you might have noticed I don’t complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here… like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There’s a nice campaign slogan for somebody: ‘The Public Sucks. F*ck Hope.”

    – George Carlin

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  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Andrew: Dyam. Pretty much politics in a nutshell.

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  23. gVOR08 says:

    @Andrew: Dyam. Too True. Pretty much politics in a nutshell.

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