By EDOUARD TÉTREAU [Le Figaro via VoxEurop] — Brexit is a fantastic opportunity. First off, for Europe itself. The UK’s exit would put a definitive stop to the EU’s hurried enlargement. The UK always encouraged this policy, seeing it as an effective way of diluting the Franco-German partnership that has called the shots on the continent. This enlargement has had two damaging consequences: states were integrated into the EU and even into the eurozone before they were ready, from Greece – doctoring its public accounts to benefit from the euro’s financial profligacy – to Viktor Orban’s Hungary and Bulgaria – one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Europe’s real “dismemberment” lies there: in the Brits’ deliberate desire to enlarge institutions that worked well with a dozen members, but which is no longer manageable in the cacophony of twenty-eight country summits. The EU’s inability to face up to recent crises, from the smallest (the Greek crisis) to the largest (the euro, terrorism, migrants), is proof of this. Brexit would therefore start a process of reorienting Europe around countries that genuinely want to go forward together.
Brexit is also very good news for France and French diplomacy. It will not change the remarkable and close-knit joint military ventures between the UK and France, in operation since the Lancaster House Treaties. But it will allow France – along with Germany – to instil into the EU a less interventionist foreign policy. This diplomacy was present in the Iraq War, supported by Tony Blair, and in NATO’s eastward push to Ukraine, reawakening Russian paranoia.
With Britain out of the picture, Europe will rediscover a diplomatic strategy closer to its interests and values, centred around three possible axes. First, a more relaxed relationship with Russia… Second, relaunching and reinventing Europe’s relationship to the Arab world following the agreement with Iran. Finally, setting Africa and the Mediterranean, Europe’s future, as a strategic priority for better or for worse…