One of the main reasons people voted for Great Britain to leave the EU, was the problem with Eastern Europe, something the Brits had to encounter a lot more than the other Europeans. After the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, this problem will only get worse. The Baltics and other depressive outskirts of Europe will be a much more potent stimuli for the rise in Euroscepticism and centrifugal forces within the EU than the Asia and Africa migrant quotas or the Euro zone problems. In the event of a systemic crisis of European integration for Germany and the other Euro Grands there will be no other option to save the European Union, then to exclude Eastern Europe and the Baltics from it.
For over half a century of European integration, the opposite process of European disintegration was set into motion. That, which was thought impossible happened: UK voted to leave the European Union. The leading British politicians and European Union officials didn’t believe in Brexit, all of the polls showed that pro-European attitudes outweighed Euroscepticism. However, the impossible happened: 52% of the Brits spoke for leaving the European Union.
It made sense that history’s first referendum on leaving the EU took place in the United Kingdom: in recent years, this country showed a record amount of Euroscepticism. The Brussels allergy was widespread among the elite and among the populace of many European countries, but only the misty Albion had more than 50% of the people vote for leaving the EU. Why do the Brits experience such repulsion to “European unity”? The reason for this is easily seen when looking at the election rhetoric of the British politicians and the main questions David Cameron’s cabinet bargained for with the European Commission for the last two years, threatening the European bureaucrats with UK leaving the EU. The four main points of contention were – giving the British Parliament the right to veto European Commission directives, renouncing further increase in Brussels’ power and limiting the power of national governments, equal rights when deciding economic issues for countries, who adopted the Euro and countries who kept their national currency, as well as limiting the freedom of movement, granting London the right to limit the Eastern European immigration and not allow Poles and Balts to the British Isles.
Britain’s exit from the European Union was the population’s reaction to the Eastern Europe problem first of all: if the problem wasn’t there, then the Brexit would not get the votes that it did.
And if governments and people from most of the EU countries agree with the first three points, the Eastern European immigration is a specifically British issue. Out of all the “Old Europeans”, the British felt the problem of “New Europe” firsthand. Despite the region being geographically distant from the United Kingdom, this country faced the consequences of the feverish addition of new and new Eastern Europeans into the ranks. The endless flow of Polish and Baltic migrant workers in recent years had turned into an endless headache for the people in UK.
After the UK leaves, Eastern Europe will be an even more pressing problem for the continental “core” members of the EU: in the future, the presence of the Baltics and other depressive Eastern outskirts in the European ranks will be the most stable stimulus for the rise Euroscepticism and a threat to the existence of “United Europe.”
First, with the lockdown on the British border, the unending flow of Romanian, Croatian, Lithuanian and Latvian migrant workers will reroute itself and flood the work markets of the continental countries of Western Europe. The Polish and Baltic migrant influx problems, which, until now, were in Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester, will now move to Berlin, Frankfurt and Marseille.
In addition, unlike the refugees from Asia and Africa, whose onslaught on Europe is an emergency situation and can be stopped, the flow of desperate unemployed people from Eastern Europe, who lost all hope in surviving in their home country will be a chronic and systemic issue, as a direct result of European integration. Likely, in the short term, migrant workers from the East will annoy native Germans and Frenchmen a lot less than ones from Africa and Arabia, but with years, the invasion of Romanians, Poles and Balts will undermine the popularity of “United Europe” in Germany and France as it had in United Kingdom.
Second, with the departure of Europe’s second biggest economy from the EU, UK’s share on filling up the EU budget will split between the remaining “donors” of the European Union. So sustaining the non-profitable East European countries incapable of financial independence will now cost even more for “Old Europe.” Of course, this situation will stimulate the rise in centrifugal force: the aforementioned United Kingdom the calls to stop feeding Eastern Europe, sending over 2 billion pounds to the EU budget every year, played an important part in Brexit supporter promotional campaign.
Third, the EU founding countries will continue to face the destructive and absurd policies of the “New Europe”, including ones that contradict the national interests of “Old Europe.”
You need only look at the diplomatic activity of the Baltic republics, to understand the point. The unreserved support of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), not even allowing the thought that Europeans can disagree on something with Americans. Attempts to block the construction of the second branch gas pipeline of the Nord Stream, which is not just a Russian, but also a German project (meaning the Baltics are actively trying to stop money coming to the hand that feeds them). The fight to prolong sanctions against Russia, which only harm the economies of the Baltic sponsors, not to mention the economies of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia themselves.
The passionate determination of the “New Europe” elites to further expand the EU deserves a special mention.
The most important cause of the European Union’s current problems is its forced expansion, when 12 relatively equal economically and culturally close European countries turned to 28 countries with huge contrasts in development.
A majority of the new countries, including the Baltics, did not meet the Copenhagen criteria of EU membership and were still accepted into the European family. Now the leaders of these countries, in their glaring Eurooptimism, bordering on Euroidiocy, are trying to promote further EU expansion by accepting increasingly poor, problematic and uncontrollable countries.
A year ago, on very day when Right Sector militants started full-fledged battles with the Ukrainian armed forces over contraband of cigarettes on the Poland-Slovakia border, the Latvian MFA Edgars Rinkēvičs spoke on Ukrainian TV, joyfully expressing his full and unconditional support of Ukraine entering the EU. What the common Europeans think of the idea of adding Ukraine with a population of 40 million, its poverty, corruption, Right Sector, war in the South-East and other specifics? That was shown in a April referendum in the Netherlands, which was deemed important enough by a third of the voters to go to on a work day, mostly speaking against associating Ukraine and the EU.
However, no social polls in Europe will force the East European neophytes to stop exporting the “European Choice”: it is no accident that following the Dutch referendum, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė recorded a TV presentation with a call to disregard the voice of Dutch population and keep dragging Ukraine to the EU. Such disregard of common sense and the interest of the common Europeans will only increase the annoyance “New Europe” is causing.
These past years, UK was Europe’s lightning rod for many problems tied to East Europe.
The United Kingdom at the same time took the problem of migrant workers and was the main defender and advocate of anti-Russian phobias and complexes of “New Europe.” Without London’s approval and sympathy, Latvia and Lithuania would have immediately into the local madmen – countryside fools on the outskirts of Europe, seeing visions of “green men.” The support in Brussels, from the UK delegates lent at least respect to the Russophobe rhetoric of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania’s representatives – even the American hawks now admit, that it will be a lot harder for the Balts to push their anti-Russian agenda in the EU without London.
However, the majority of Brits said “enough!” to all of it. Handle the Latvian dirty workers yourself, pay the Romanians and Poles their social aid, send money to Brussels for donations to Croatia and Slovakia, play the Lithuanian geopolitical games, but we won’t be doing any of that anymore.
So now the problems with East Europe, and the population fleeing from it, falls unto the shoulders of the founding countries of the EU. And in the future, these problems will be a fertile soil for further popularity of Alternative for Germany (AfD), the French National Front, Dutch Freedom Party, Italian Lega Nord and other Euroskeptics calling for the European Union’s dissolution. They will strengthen the separatist tendencies in Europe’s richest regions: Spanish Catalonia, Belgian Flanders, Italian Veneto, - the people of these regions will be presented with the necessity of not just feeding their Southern compatriots, but also some Lithuanian they have never heard of, know nothing of and can’t even spell.
In the case of systemic crisis of European integration, when the prospect of the European Union falling apart is in full view, the EU founding countries will have no other choice of saving “United Europe” but to kick out Eastern Europe and the Baltics.
One could say that such a scenario of events is too radical and practically impossible. But the situation of UK leaving the EU seemed fantastical and practically impossible until 23 June. Only recently, the European Union seemed like the pinnacle of human development, a paragon of socio-political construction, a city on the hill, which can only expand, but not get smaller. Now, after six decades of European integration, the disintegration has begun: inspired by the Brits, opponents of “United Europe” can initiate referendums one after the other on leaving the European Union. Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, France – all of the EU donor-countries are experiencing a rise in anti-Brussels attitudes and those favor of disbanding the European Union can expect to find considerable support there.
Is a European crisis on such a scale that it threatens the future existence of the EU really an impossibility? But the crisis tendencies in Europe have been felt in recent years and the Brexit that happened despite all forecasts is the best indicator. In accordance with the function cycles of capitalist economy, overproduction crises happen every 10-15 years, and when another economic crisis hits the unresolved and untended problems of the EU, then the systemic all-encompassing crisis of European integration will take place.
There is no doubt, that when the systemic crisis strikes – the countries, which benefited from European integration and founded the EU, will not have time for sentimentality and time for those they tamed.
It is noteworthy that during the critical day of the British referendum results, only the six founding EU member country MFA’s flew to Berlin to discuss the Brexit.
Offended by such flagrant disregard of their allies, Poland called an alternative summit of the EU countries MFAs, who weren’t invited to Berlin. But it is clear that the diplomatic affront meant nothing. The Germany and France’s joint plan on leaving the crisis may affect the fate of Europe, but another loud reminder of their own importance from Poland and the Baltics will never affect anything. Right now, the Euro Grands just don’t have time for them, and in the future, when the situation will really come to push, they can just kick them out of the EU.
Translated by Pavel Shamshiev