EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, and EU Council President Donald Tusk talk prior to a press conference during a EU Summit meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday. European leaders met on Wednesday without Britain for the first time in 40 years.
The countries of the West were once known to have always expected the establishment to be challenged by the left. The supporters of left-wing ideology have, after all, always claimed that they are the only force of change and progress, the only force capable of liberating mankind.
Yet the revolution today came from British conservatives.
It is not surprising that Europe responded politically to the result of the UK referendum with left-wing rhetoric. Even a qualitative analysis of the result was conducted in order to show that those who voted to leave the European Union tended to be middle-aged or older, less educated and, by inference, less aware of the consequences of their decision. In short, the decision to leave was laid at the doorstep of the plebeians, the racists and the boors. Such rationalization is an expression of absolute intellectual arrogance.
Things are more complicated than that. In the UK, we are not dealing with SYRIZA and the pro-European forces of New Democracy and PASOK, though the comparison has lost all meaning since Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras started implementing the European austerity program with such vigor.
In the meantime, the show of force by European governments was also not surprising. The emergency summit attended by British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday was not enough; they held another, unofficial meeting the following day, and did not invite Britain. Basically, before the UK could even mobilize the law that would launch negotiations for the country’s departure from the European Union, the leaders of the EU-27 heeded the decision of the British people and unofficially ousted the UK, a country that always plays by the book.
Beyond the doom and gloom about the repercussions of the decision on the economy, the referendum is first and foremost important on a political level. Without the participation of Britain – the biggest, most experienced and well-prepared military force in Western Europe – we cannot speak of a “European” defense system nor, by extension, of political unification, because a political entity that does not include a security arm is just not realistic. This is something the anti-NATO voices of the EU should bear in mind, because we are starting to distort the broader European ideal.
In this phase, Britain’s exit means more German control. Yesterday’s meeting of the 27 concluded that the Union does not need to change its circumstances or rules.
The message was for implementation, not innovation. This is something that is very clear to the left currently ruling in Greece, Italy and France.