Early daily exercise in zooming out
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It can be assumed that diplomats in member states, in EU structures are ordered to work overtime these days to produce briefings on the way ahead after Brexit.
Gradually one can expect a shift in the use of paradigms for those briefings. Significantly, there will be a requirement to think out-of-the-box and apply a comprehensive approach – this is not business as usual.
For the time being, most people will be trying to map negative consequences. After that they will be focusing on damage limitation. Then there would be an effort to develop contingency planning. But importantly there are already now voices in the public debate who focus on new options for the EU - in the absence of the UK.
The consequences will be many and may only be discovered as time passes. In some areas, prospects immediately look very gloomy, such as in enlargement negotiations, where a strong voice for enlargement of the EU already now effectively is disabled. What this will mean for EU Turkey relations, or for the Balkans is very unclear but most protagonist of enlargement would probably deem the situation as negative
It may be useful to take as a contrasting example the area of CSDP. Here many who want to develop a more autonomous role for the EU in defence will start thinking more freely than was possible with UK as a member. Remember that the initial parameters for CSDP to a large extent were defined in an agreement between the French and British leaders in 1998 at St Malo. One of the main demands from the British side at the time was no operational military planning inside the EU in Brussels. This was by preference to be done through NATO and led by the deputy SACEUR, who normally is a Brit. It can be assumed that one or several EU countries will refuse such an arrangement for future EU military operations. So we might see more autonomous military operations in the future lead from the EU buildings in Brussels.
Secondly, as regards procurement of defence capabilities a UK defence ministry official, Nick Witney took the lead in setting up the European defence agency as a fundamentally intergovernmental structure which was not supposed to be funded or led by the Commission. Basic assumptions in this context may again come under discussions as the need to make defence spending more effective grows.
Thirdly on a more general, level the issue of security guarantees as they existed during the time of the Western European Union may again come on the table.
Fourth, it is already obvious that more emphasis on EU military operations and perhaps even standing military capabilities will increase, as already indicated by a President Juncker and the German government.
Smaller countries may seek to block some of these developments but may see themselves unable to counter threats to locate such arrangements (like the euro cooperation) outside EU structures which would further strengthen the inner circle of EU members constituting a coalition of the willing.
So in the end many may - from different perspectives - also see new options opening up for the future. Some of the thoughts in this direction were already put on the table before the referendum here..
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