What a sad day to come on line. We are still contemplating what consequences Brexit will have on the UK, the EU, Croatia, the Balkans and the rest of the world, but for now we mainly regret this decision which we think will be bad for both the UK and the EU.
Both have grown significantly, both politically and economically, since the UK joined the EC. We believe this was made at least easier if not possible because of this interaction. Be that as it may, it seems clear that Brexit will have some political consequences. Scotland may decide to rethink its recent referendum, there already seem to be voices in Northern Ireland asking to find a way to stay in the EU, and many other countries may decide to follow some or all of the UK’s thinking that led to this result. And that could (further) undermine the basic political tenets of the EU itself.
This also leads to a question of EU’s capacity to handle political issues. Over the past two years the Union was hit by a number of political crises – the Greek crisis, the Ukrainian crisis, the refugee crisis, EU’s role in a number of crises around the world, and so on. All of these were ultimately handed over from EU’s bureaucracy to political leaders of the member states because the EU’s own machinery could not move them in the right direction. Some of them are still stalled, but that is another issue altogether.
So the question is can the European project be saved if we continue this way? Is the real problem with the project or with implementation?
We believe the decision to leave to be wrong, but of course respect the will of the people of the island. Now they need to find the strength and political vision to tackle the challenges ahead – from electing the new leadership to handling Scotland’s status within the UK and dealing with complex political processes in Northern Ireland. And then they need to negotiate how they will actually leave the Union. We expect this process to take some time, and it is possible that the dramatic aspects of Brexit get somewhat reduced once the process gets down to the nitty-gritty economic detail and economic consequences start to bite on both sides.
We also asked some of the most prominent political analysts from Zagreb and Belgrade to comment on what it means for Croatia and the Balkans. Read further what Davor Gjenero from Zagreb and Jelena Milic from Belgrade have to say.