For a while, Britain has been mutely attempting to create a new European bloc. Now that Britain (precisely the UK) has voted to leave the long survived union among the European states, there is every possibility that Britain would, along with other European countries having “NOT so pro-European Union” sentimental establishments/regimes, move towards forming and institutionalizing this new bloc.
European Union: Less important for Britain
Since the war-torn Europe became very vulnerable in all aspects after the Second World War, the region, which holds massive energy resources, required collaboration to save their existence from inside weaknesses and from outside entities. Integration and cooperation among the European countries were necessary not just to ensure peace in Europe through avoiding further wars among the European neighbors, but also to stay relevant in world affairs against the strong global presence of neighboring former Soviet Union. Also, unhindered economic progress was one of the major reasons, no doubt, for initiating the regional integration process through the formation of the European Union (EU).
After the Second World War, the victorious Britain considered itself to be the leading European power. As a result, a unified platform among the Europeans was seen by Britain as an option to serve its purposes and not as a requirement for survival. However, for the other war-torn mainland European countries, the union among the European countries was a requirement for survival. So, the union was more important to the likes of Germany and France than Britain.
Britain-led new European bloc
In the current-day scenario, the pro-EU governments within the EU, such as France, fear that Britain’s exit from the EU may pave the way for other EU member states to follow suit. However, the extent to which Britain’s exit may fuel a series of exits by other member states out of the EU largely depends on Britain’s success as a non-EU state after Britain “formally” exits the union – which would require at least two more years.
What would be Britain’s next regional stance once it “formally” leaves the EU? Would Britain follow the examples of the member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) like Switzerland and Norway, which, despite having no EU membership, enjoy prosperity and success?
The possible-most case would be the creation of a new European bloc consisting of European countries with “NOT so pro-EU” sentimental establishments/regimes. Indeed, Britain already has been, as mentioned earlier, mutely attempting to create a bloc that is often addressed as the “northern league”. All the probable northern-leaguers – namely Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Britain itself – share a common desire to restrict the power of the EU. With the attempt of forming such a bloc or alliance, Britain is perhaps trying to restrict the expansion of the EU and to divide the existing EU in order to serve Britain’s own geopolitical interests.
Predictions for a chaotic Europe
If Britain makes its move towards institutionalizing the “northern league” and also joins the aforesaid EFTA after “formally” leaving the EU, a two-centric Europe would emerge — one led by France and Germany (Franco-German duo) under the banner of the EU and the other led by Britain — creating scopes for further division, cold relations, conflicts and, perhaps, wars.
There is every possibility that one of the two European blocs that might emerge out of Britain’s “formal” exit from the EU may lean towards, or align with, the Sino-Russian side of global geopolitics in confronting the other side that would avail the backing from the US.
With such two opposite blocs in Europe, wars or proxy wars are the only possibilities. The conflict of interests between the Western bloc (led by the US) and the Eastern bloc (led by the former Soviet Union) during the cold war period led to a number of proxy wars around the world. Similarly, Saudi-Iran regional rivalry has been resulting in a number of proxy wars in the Middle Eastern region. Therefore, it would not be unprecedented if the two spread heads of the two future European regional blocs, one led by the Franco-German duo and the other led by Britain, fight between themselves through proxies. However, a ‘direct’ war between these European spearheads is most likely to spread all over Europe, turning the region into a chaotic place.
• Britain’s “formal” exit from the EU might bring about a serious power-imbalance in greater Europe. There is the likelihood that Europe will become bipolar, and thus, the Europeans will no longer remain important players with regard to global affairs. Europe would become a fragmented territory that would become subjugated by other powerful state-players, all of which would use the fragmented pieces of Europe as objects of power rivalries among themselves.
• A chaotic Europe would neither be advantageous for Franco-German duo nor for Britain. Such Europe-wide chaos would destroy the social, economic and political institutions of each European state from the core. Chaos not only would halt the progresses that both sides have made so far after the Second World War, but also would cause their development to be reversed back to centuries.
• Russia would be mistaken if it thinks it may enjoy the chaos in Europe. A spill-over effect of European-chaos might hit Russia as was the case during the Second World War, where Russia, despite not having an active involvement in the war at the beginning, was attacked by the German Army.
• A direct war between the European spearheads is most likely to spread all over the world, similar to what had been seen in the previous two world wars that started as European conflicts only to turn into world wars.