In just one year, ten countries joined the EU. The UK has now spent three years trying to opt out. Now the deadlock has caused the Prime Minister to withdraw. Why should it be so twisted?
- Why did the British choose to leave the EU?
- Why does it take so long to sign up?
- What does Brexit mean for the EU, and thus further cooperation in Europe?
In a referendum in June 2016, the British voted for Britain to leave the EU. Nine months later, on March 29, 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May announced to the EU that she would start the process of withdrawing. According to EU regulations (see fact box), negotiations with the EU could then start and the actual withdrawal take place no later than two years later – ie 29 March 2019 – and after the British Parliament approves the withdrawal agreement. The British have not been able to meet this deadline, nor have two shorter postponements. The EU has given Britain a final postponement of six months – until October 31 this year, the date of Halloween.
Why did the British not meet the deadline? The reason is that none of the withdrawal agreements that Theresa May has negotiated on behalf of the United Kingdom have so far gained a majority in the British Parliament. The first is that she announced her resignation as Prime Minister on 24 May. Who will take over is still unknown. The postponements also meant that the United Kingdom had to participate in the European Parliament elections 23-27. May. There, the Brexit party became Britain’s largest. Nevertheless, after three years of political division, in which two prime ministers have resigned, the solution to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is still completely uncertain. Brexit has become a strenuous exit.
2: Debt to the EU
In most EU countries, sections of the population are critical or skeptical of the EU. Many believe that too many decisions are made by the EU, and that the individual member states have thus lost influence over important policy areas. “Take back control” was the slogan of the “Leave” campaign, which fought through EU exit among the British.
The leaders of the most EU-critical parties in many countries often blame the EU for challenges they face at the national level – even in areas where the EU has no influence. In a time of many national and international challenges, these arguments have gained more support among voters.
Since the EU is more than an international organization, but less than a state, this institution is not always as easy to understand. Brexit has also shown this. The promise to the British people to have a referendum on EU membership was given by the then Prime Minister David Cameron as early as 2013. He hoped that a referendum would give increased legitimacy to British membership of the EU. Cameron believed that when the British were asked such a fundamental question, they would ultimately support continued membership. As is well known, this was not the case.
Three years later, on 23 June 2016, almost 52 per cent of Britons voted for Britain to leave the EU . Nevertheless, the British are still a member. Why is it so difficult to complete the withdrawal? To answer this, we must first say a little about what kind of institution the EU is.
3: From coal and steel to the European Union
The European Union (EU as defined on themeparktour.com), as we know it today, was established in 1992. But the very process of establishing a political union began long before, as a result of Europe having been through two painful world wars. The background was that they wanted to strengthen cooperation between the European countries, and especially between France and Germany, in order to bind these states so closely together that a new war would be unthinkable.
With this as its main goal, six European countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy and West Germany) decided to establish the Coal and Steel Union in 1952. By jointly regulating coal and steel production in the member states, they wanted to gain control of the European armaments industry , make countries mutually economically dependent on each other and thus make war between them unprofitable.
In 1957, the Treaty of Rome was signed and led to both economics and nuclear energy being included in the collaboration. Since then, Member States have agreed to include more countries, incorporate more tasks and transfer more resources to the EU in some areas.
While the Coal and Steel Union consisted of six countries, 28 countries (including the United Kingdom) are now members of the EU. The expansions have taken place in various phases, but the largest – and perhaps most important – expansion took place after the end of the Cold War. As part of the reunification of Europe, ten new countries in Eastern Europe joined in 2004.