July 15, 2016   //   International   //   By Michael Burge

It is not often that we witness an event that can shape the future for an entire continent.  It is also not often that you are in the center of it while it’s happening.  I am referring to the recent vote in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.  I remember hearing about the possibility before I left for Europe. From what I understood, not many people thought that the UK would actually leave.  I assume that it was this mentality that made the news even more shocking here in Europe.  Besides the obvious economic impact there are many questions and a broad sense of uncertainty members of the EU have going forward.  For example what will non-British citizens working in the UK have to do? Previously there were rules in place that allowed EU members to work in other countries without restriction.  Do these people have to apply for work visas now and vice versa do British citizens in Germany need to apply for visas?  From what I have researched this seems to be the outcome of England’s decision. It seems both England and the EU are in a worse position depending on how the terms of the negotiation work out. Unfortunately now they must restructure almost every agreement, from trade and tariffs, to border control and immigration. Some of the UK “Leave” party’s main points for leaving were increased border control, deciding how many people should be allowed to live and work in the UK, and to stop paying billions of Pounds in membership dues for little in return. Not only does this affect UK to the EU but it also has an impact on the USA, more specifically the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  TTIP is currently under negotiation between the US and the EU and would create one of the largest free trade areas in the history of the world, however with the UK departing England will have to create its own treaty with the US and EU if they want to participate in a Transatlantic Trade Agreement.

 

Another interesting development is that Northern Ireland and Scotland both voted heavily to stay in the EU.  This could lead to secession from the UK and rejoining the UN as separate countries. I could only imagine this being similar to if one of the US economic centers decided to leave the Union such as New York or California. Not that I ever see this happening, but in a “what if” scenario the results would be disastrous for the US and for the states that left.

 

I will be very interested to see the British point of view first hand as I will be spending a week in London and Glasgow in mid-July.  In a slight turn of events, I will be benefiting from the Brexit as the value of the pound decreased significantly making my trip much cheaper than originally planned. After my visit to the UK, I will hopefully come back with more insight on England leaving the EU and give my devoted readers a more complete explanation of what is going on from a local perspective.  I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July weekend, as unfortunately in Germany the US Independence Day did not make the cut for days off.