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Library Alert 07/05/2016 - Brexit  

Last Updated: Jul 5, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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General Note: Content

Given the geopolitical and geoeconomic importance of the 23 June Referendum in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, this Library Alert will focus exclusively on the implications of this vote. Normally, only academic research and reports are included in Library Alerts; however, as little time has passed since the Referendum, commentary, statements, and discussions from influential international security and foreign policy institutions in the United Kingdom, the United States, Continental Europe, and elsewhere are included. Some British government publications and news items are included as well.

As of 5 July 2016, the following are the most detailed open access resources about Brexit of which the USAWC Library is aware. More detailed reports may become available in the future, in which case they will be considered for inclusion in future Library Alerts.


    Centre for European Reform (United Kingdom)

    RAND Corporation

    • "Why Brexit Won’t Necessarily Hurt NATO” by Michael Spirtas (3 July 2016)
      "Concerns that the ‘Brexit’ vote could weaken NATO are overblown. There will likely be a wide range of fallout from the vote that will spread beyond the economic realm, but the European Union is not NATO — it's far too early to expect dramatic outcomes like the rise of Russian influence in Eastern Europe or a significant weakening of NATO.”
    • "Grasping the Brexit Moment for Free Trade” by Howard J. Shatz (1 July 2016)
      “The United Kingdom's surprising vote to exit the EU turned another tricky day into a possible social crisis. But where there is crisis, there is also opportunity, and the vote presents an opening for another step forward of global trade and investment liberalization.”
    • "The Future of Transatlantic Security” by Christopher S. Chivvis (28 June 2016)
      "The United Kingdom's vote to leave the E.U. is a severe blow to the E.U.'s long-standing interest in building a common foreign and defense policy and could pose questions for NATO. Yet the impact of ‘Brexit’ on practical cooperation — both between the U.K. and Europe and the U.K. and the United States — should be more limited, at least in the near term.”

    Atlantic Council (United States)

    • “Europe Needs a New Approach in a Post- Brexit World” by Ana Palacio (1 July 2016)
      “‘Of the many things that the British decision to leave the European Union has been called—earthquake, inflection point, game-changer, disaster—perhaps the most important is wake up call. If June 23 does not raise European leaders from their collective slumber, then hope is lost for this European project of ours’” writes Ana Palacio, a former foreign minister of Spain.”
    • “Brexit is a Win for Putin” by John E. Herbst (30 June 2016)
      “‘A vote for Brexit is a big win for Russia’s foreign policy. Moscow has made no secret of its desire to upend the post-Cold War settlement in Europe,’ writes John E. Herbst, director for the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.”
    • "Why a Brexit May Not Happen” by Anders Åslund (30 June 2016)
      "British support for taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union came as a tremendous shock to the world. Global financial markets were roiled for two days after the June 23 referendum. A few days later, however, questions have been raised about whether the UK would actually leave the European Union. It now appears increasingly likely that a so-called Brexit will not happen,” writes Anders Åslund, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.”
    • “TTIP Will ‘Survive’ Brexit” by Mitch Hulse (30 June 2016)
      “‘There are a lot of uncertainties related to Brexit and we will have to wait and see the clearer picture. But for now and for the immediate future, the UK is a member of the EU and we will negotiate [the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)] on behalf of all the twenty-eight members. TTIP will survive Brexit,’ Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for trade, said at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program in Washington on June 29.”
    • "With Brexit Looming, United States Advised to Forge Ties with Germany, the UK” by Ashish Kumar Sen (28 June 2016)
      "In light of the British decision to leave the European Union, US President Barack Obama and his successor must forge a closer bond with Germany and shore up the “special relationship” with the United Kingdom, said R. Nicholas Burns, an Atlantic Council board director who served as Undersecretary of State for political affairs in the George W. Bush administration.”
    • "Africa and Brexit: Not All Bad News” by J. Peter Pham (28 June 2016)
      “‘Amid the global political and economic turmoil in the wake of last week’s narrow decision by British voters in favor of taking their country out of the European Union, there has been no shortage of alarm about the potential toll of ‘Brexit’ on Africa in terms of diminished trade, investment, and assistance. While there will undoubtedly be a significant negative impact in the short-to-medium term, over the long run, the news may not be all bad from the African perspective,’ writes J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.”
    • “What Brexit Means for Ukraine” by Andreas Umland (27 June 2016)
      “‘For Ukrainians, the British vote is difficult to understand. They have fought and are still fighting for their ‘European choice.’ Initially in a revolution, then in a highly intense hybrid war, and now in low-intensity warfare, they are defending their right to freely associate with and eventually join the EU,’ writes Andreas Umland, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation at Kyiv.”
    • "NATO After Brexit: Restoring the Power and Purpose of the Alliance” by Lauren Speranza & Marija Vaicekauskaite (27 June 2016)
      “On June 27, 2016 the Atlantic Council hosted a private luncheon followed by a public roll-out to launch a new flagship report on ‘Restoring the Power and Purpose of the NATO Alliance,’ co-chaired by Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns and General James L. Jones. In light of Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union, the events convened key transatlantic officials and leaders to discuss what the US, UK, and crucial European Allies must do to bolster NATO's strength and solidarity, especially in a post-Brexit Europe. The events presented the key conclusions and recommendations of the report, which was the culmination of a four month-long Atlantic Council-chartered study on the future of NATO.”
    • “To Brexit or to Bremain? That is the Question” by Nauro Ferreira Campos and Fabrizio Coricelli (6 June 2016))
      Note: Although this report was published before the 23 June Referendum, it remains relevant because it seeks to predict the consequences of a Leave vote. “With the impending Brexit referendum on June 23, economists must anticipate the ramifications of the United Kingdom (UK) leaving the European Union (EU). This is the first time the voluntary integration of the EU has been threatened, and creates a distressing existential question: is EU membership valuable enough?”

    Egmont Institute Royal Institute for International Relations (Belgium)

    • “The EU Global Strategy: Realpolitik with European Characteristics” by Sven Biscop (29 June 2016)
      “On 28 June 2016 High Representative Federica Mogherini presented the ‘Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy’ (EUGS) to the European Council. Many pundits will present it as another example of Brussels’ otherworldliness to table an external strategy just a few days after the UK created a huge internal challenge by voting to leave the Union. But would it have demonstrated a better sense of reality to pretend that because of the British decision to put a stop to its EU membership the world around Europe will come to a stop as well? Many will also gladly find fault with the document, looking for the deficiencies. But it is the strategy now. Therefore the question is not what it could have said that it doesn’t, but whether it gives us something to work with to render EU foreign and security policy more effective. The answer is: yes, and quite a lot. Having gotten that out of the way, we can move on to the substance of the EUGS.”

    Clingendael: Netherlands Institute of International Relations (The Netherlands)

    • “NATO’s Warsaw Summit: No Exits, but Staying Together” by Dick Zandee (30 June 2016)
      “NATO's political leaders will meet in Warsaw on 8 and 9 July. A few weeks ago, the Alliance's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg described the gathering as a 'landmark summit' against the backdrop of the security challenges stemming from the East and the South. After the British referendum outcome – to leave the European Union – there seems to be another reason to label the Warsaw Summit as 'historic'. The uncertainty of Europe's future is also a dark cloud hanging over the North Atlantic Alliance, no matter how much the Brexiteers deny any such consequence. A weak and divided Europe weakens NATO. Clarity about the EU's future is not only important in view of financial and economic stability but also for geopolitical reasons.”
    • “Beauty Contest Due to Brexit” by Marcel Baartman (30 June 2016)
      “The Brexit…does not only represent substantial costs for the EU economies and geostrategic risk for companies. Important opportunities might also emerge as many international companies and financial institutions reconsider in which country to establish their European activities. This could initiate a new beauty contest between countries to seduce companies to make inward investments in their country.”
    • "Brexit: A Wake Up Call for Europe” by Peter van Ham (24 June 2016)
      “The UK’s decision to leave the EU has rekindled democracy across the European continent. EU integration will inevitably become à la carte, where member states decide what level of sovereignty they will share and on what topics. For this reason alone, the UK’s Independence Day is a wake-up call for the rest of Europe.”

    German Marshall Fund of the United States (Offices in the United States and Europe)

    • “China in Not ‘the Winner of Brexit’” by Andrew Small (1 July 2016
      “And the rash of articles suggesting that it is are misguided.”
    • “NATO Summit an Opportunity for Unity and Leadership after Brexit” by Karen Donfried (29 June 2016)
      "The implications of the Brexit vote are stark, not only for the United Kingdom and for the European Union, but also for the United States. Since the end of World War II, successive U.S. administrations have strongly supported the project of European economic and political integration – initially, to ensure peace among the continent’s great powers; more recently, to enlarge the area of democratic stability and economic prosperity across the continent.”
    • “With Britain Leaving, Europe Will Need to Quickly Carry On” by Daniela Schwarzer (24 June 2016)
      “Yesterday’s vote for Britain to leave the Union places the EU before a stark challenge, in the midst of trying times. The fundamental challenge to the European Union comes at a time at which multiple, interlinked crises have already shaken much of what the EU was at what now seems to be the peak of integration following the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. Although the shock goes deep, now is the time to keep a cool head, be pragmatic, and refocus on European ambition.”
    • “Brexit and Burst? Britain’s Existential Crisis” by Daniel Twining (23 June 2016)
      “Britain’s hard-fought referendum on whether to remain a member of the European Union is emblematic of a wider shift in Europe’s geopolitics. As much as the British want to believe their islands have a destiny separate from that of the continent, they have in fact been pacesetters for Europe writ large, from the consolidation of parliamentary democracy to the industrial revolution to the market reforms of the 1980s. This year’s “Brexit” debate, although in many ways peculiarly British, has amplified broader trends in European politics – including questioning the fundamentals behind the unity of the continent – that are likely to intensify rather than subside. The future of Europe, the transatlantic alliance and the international liberal order are all in play, and the June 23 referendum has done little to settle them.”

    General Note: Links

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    United Kingdom Parliament. House of Lords.

    Chatham House: The Royal Institute of International Affairs (United Kingdom)

    Council on Foreign Relations (United States)

    • “The Debate Over Brexit” by James McBride (30 June 2016)
      "After the victory of the Leave campaign in a June 2016 referendum on the UK's future in the bloc, the risks of separating from the EU became clearer. With financial markets in tumult and the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, the UK now faces the possibility of losing preferential access to its largest trading partner, the disruption of its large financial sector, a protracted period of political uncertainty, and the breakup of the UK itself. Meanwhile, Brexit could accelerate nationalist movements across the continent, from Scotland to Hungary, with unpredictable consequences for the European project.”
    • “What Brexit Reveals About Rising Populism” (Interview of Edward Alden by James McBride) (29 June 2016)
      "On June 23, the British people defied expectations by voting to leave the European Union. The hotly contested referendum was marked by the rise of a populism based on the desire to regain control of immigration and reclaim national sovereignty from international institutions. The UK's euroskepticism also parallels the anti-immigration and anti-trade sentiment surging the United States, both of which are driven by ‘individuals who feel like they have been on the losing end of globalization,’ says Edward Alden, CFR Senior.”
    • "Brexit’s Threat to Global Growth” by Robert Kahn (28 June 2016)
      "Thursday’s Brexit vote wasn’t a ‘Lehman moment”, as some have feared. Instead, it ‘was a growth moment. And that may be the greater threat. If policymakers respond effectively, the benefits could be substantial: a stronger global economy, and an ebbing of the political and economic forces now pressuring UK and European policymakers. Conversely, failure to address the growth risks could cause broader and deeper global economic contagion.”
    • "Media Call: Brexit” (Audio with Transcript) (24 June 2016)
      "Speakers discussed the results of the United Kingdom’s referendum on withdrawing from the European Union, including the political and economic consequences and what this will mean for the UK and Europe as a whole.”

    Peterson Institute for International Economics (United States)

    Carnegie Europe (Belgium)

    • "Polish-German Relations After Brexit” by Judy Dempsey (30 June 2016)
      Commentary on the Brexit vote’s political implications within remaining European Union member states.
    • “Is Brexit Irreversible?” by Judy Dempsey (29 June 2016)
      “It may be wishful thinking, but the British vote to leave the EU can be reversed. The fact that the June 23 referendum was not legally binding is less important than the political commitment made during the campaign to respond to the outcome. But if the political context changes as dramatically as it appears, this may influence the decision. Citizens are mobilizing in large numbers, and the UK and Scottish parliaments may manage to block the result. With leadership changes in both the governing Conservative Party and potentially the opposition Labour Party and a possible early general election, there is growing space to change the outcome.”
    • “Brexit’s Hangover” by Judy Dempsey (27 June 2016)
      "Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union has exposed big fault lines inside the bloc. Unless the divisions are overcome as soon as possible, the markets will pounce on the euro, having already done so on the British pound. Uncertainty over when and how to negotiate Britain’s exit from the EU will lead to paralysis inside the bloc that Euroskeptic movements will exploit. The yawning gap between citizens, leaders, and the EU institutions will widen. And resentment could build up between the big and small member states.”
    • "The British Vote No to Europe” by Judy Dempsey (24 June 2016)
      “In the end, the British voted to leave the EU, which the UK joined in 1973. After a long and tense night of counting and with the pendulum swinging back and forth, the Leave vote finally won the June 23 referendum by 51.9 percent. David Cameron announced his resignation as British prime minister. He will leave in October, hoping in the meantime to ‘steady the ship.’ The result is a very depressing outcome not only for Britain but also for Europe. Europe’s place in the world has been severely weakened, as has Britain’s.”

    European Policy Centre (Belgium)

    • “Europe in Limbo While the UK Descends into Chaos” by Janis A. Emmanouilidis (30 June 2016)
      "The EU Summit and the separate meeting of the EU27 without the UK on 28/29 June 2016 demonstrated that the EU is in limbo. Following the initial shock, frustration and anger after the unexpected result of the UK ‘in/out’ referendum, the future relationship between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) monopolised the meetings of EU leaders. The EU has entered uncharted waters and leaders are struggling to figure out how exactly to deal with the manifold (potential) consequences of the ‘Brexit crisis’. Despite the many uncertainties, the EU27 managed to reach some common lines, trying to convey four key messages, although the final outcome of the crisis and its effects on the Union’s overall future are still very unclear.”
    • "Europe: A Question of Survival” by Giovanni Grevi (27 June 2016)
      “The choice of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU) poses a fundamental question that can no longer be avoided – that of the survival of European integration. Chancellor Merkel rightly defined Brexit as a ‘watershed’ moment for Europe. She omitted, however, that beyond this turning point lies the crossroads between a spiral of political and economic disintegration and the very difficult path towards re-asserting the European project.”
    • "Brexit: A New Beginning for the EU or the Beginning of the End?” by Fabian Zuleeg and Janis A. Emmanouilidis (24 June 2016)
      “Does a Brexit make the EU more cohesive, able to conduct a real debate about the future, now that the UK brake is finally gone? Unfortunately, it seems unlikely at this stage. This would require a step change in leadership. The EU’s leadership in the institutions and the member states will declare that they accept the result but that they are ready to defend the EU, that Brexit does not mean the ‘end’ of the EU. On the contrary, they will state that we need take a lesson from the Brexit result and make more progress within the EU, which could mean more coordination / cooperation in some areas and maybe some ‘re-nationalisation’ in others. But the actions will, in the end, be disappointing if the old logic of kicking the can down the road prevails. In this case, we shouldn’t expect much given the low readiness to reform and the already existing divisions within and between member states. The differences which are there...are not caused by the UK, and thus not be resolved

    Polish Institute of International Affairs (Poland)

    • “A ‘Non-Euro’ Zone after a Possbible Brexit” by Sebastian Płóciennik (30 June 2016)
      “The UK’s exit from the European Union will change the relationship between eurozone countries and those without a common currency—primarily to the detriment of the latter. They will be faced with a choice between fast-track adoption of the euro or political and economic marginalisation. The obvious political and economic risks associated with both options can be limited by stabilising the relationship between the eurozone and EU Member States without the common currency. In this context, it is worth considering strengthening the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.”
    • “Waiting for Brexit: The Legal and Political Implications of the British EU Referendum” by Karolina Borońska-Hryniewiecka (28 June 2016)
      “The result of the EU referendum in the UK introduces considerable uncertainty to the process of European integration as well as to British politics and the UK’s relationship with the European Union. Although the referendum is non-binding, its political consequences almost rule out the possibility of the UK not triggering the withdrawal procedure from the EU (Article 50). The difficulty in the decision to proceed is that doing so immediately commences the two-year timeframe for negotiations between the EU-27 and the departing state, which significantly reduces the UK’s chances of leaving with good conditions. The British government will therefore first seek to initiate informal talks about possible options for an agreement before invoking Article 50, although some EU states have already ruled out this approach.”
    • “Probable EU-UK Relationship After Brexit: Perspectives of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland” by Karolina Boronska-Hryniewiecka, et al. (May 2016)
      Note: Although this report was published before the 23 June Referendum, it remains relevant because it seeks to predict the consequences of a Leave vote. “This report seeks to answer the question of how things will develop if, following the 23 June 2016 referendum, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland leaves the European Union, in a move commonly referred to as Brexit. The Polish Institute of International Affairs posits that such a scenario would have adverse consequences for both the European Union and the UK. But given that, just a month before the referendum, the possibility that voters will opt for withdrawal cannot be reasonably ruled out, it is only natural to explore how this outcome could impact the future of European integration.”

    The Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (Spain)

    • “The Brexit Scenarios: Towards a New UK-EU Relationship” by Pol Morillas et al. (June 2016)
      Note: Although this report was published before the 23 June Referendum, it remains relevant because it seeks to predict the consequences of a Leave vote. “This publication brings together the papers presented at the workshop ‘Scenarios of a new UK-EU relationship’...The workshop analysed the scenarios of the British referendum on European Union (EU) membership that will take place on June 23rd 2016 and discussed, among other issues, the negotiations between the British government & the EU, the referendum campaign, the internal developments in the United Kingdom (UK) and the EU and the scenarios that might prevail after the referendum. This publication presents three scenarios based on whether the UK will stay in the EU (‘Bremain’), whether it will leave the EU following some form of agreement (‘soft Brexit’) or whether it leaves it abruptly (‘harsh Brexit’)."

    Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore (Singapore)

    BBC Newsnight (BBC News Program)


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