Shocks play a critical role in shaping and dismantling perspectives throughout history and have been used to create and pursue various agendas. Brexit, contrary to popular belief, may in fact strategically allow the European Union to reinvent itself and continue in its supranational evolution.
The Shock and Awe doctrine, a military doctrine, based on the notion of overwhelming power, is grounded in the theory that shocks can paralyse the enemy’s perception of battle, crippling his ability to fight back. Such tactics, however, are not and have not been limited to the god of Mars. Multinational corporations and political parties have used such events to push unwanted agendas and blur underlying interests. One of the most recent shocks to reverberate in today’s world erupted into the political scene when Britain announced that it had voted to withdraw from the European Union. Such a critical jolt in European politics may turn out to be more beneficial than first perceived. Britain’s decision to leave, long perceived to be a sign of EU demise, may, in fact, promise a stronger and more centralised organisation.
Brexit changed the political landscape by having a huge impact on confidence, changing the sentiment and perception of Europe. Most now view the EU in a precarious position. Europe has struggled desperately to showcase unity yet has failed tremendously in the task. The fissures of decentralisation and disintegration all the more obvious by the departure of Britain. The Herculean task of achieving political unity and the continuation of its supranational evolution were slain by the “leave” vote. Yet, perhaps it is precisely what has happened which may revitalise and give impetus to a reformed and unified Europe. To survive, the EU must centralise, and it is exactly this that bureaucrats in Brussels are demanding. Centralisation has been echoed by Guy Verhofstadt, a prominent politician and leader of the ALDE group, who wants a “smaller European government.” Guy Verhofstadt has been calling for radical reform, pushing for the concentration of power and the reduction in “number of ministers from twenty-eight to twelve.” The process of centralisation and political unity, however, is deeply opposed and is considered a threat to democracy by many. This was made evident when referendums on a European constitution were rejected in 2005 by both France and the Netherlands, ending hopes of federalism. What better time to usher in political reforms than when least expected and in such dire times?
During the Bratislava Summit, the first European summit since the Brexit vote, President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, described Europe to be in an “existential crisis.” Nobody is considering that the EU may, in fact, grow stronger because of Brexit. Yet, this atmosphere of apparent paralysis and crisis is perfect to push for deeper and more radical reforms. Regimes, kingdoms, empires, and states, since the dawn of time, have used the excuse of external threats and crisis to push and justify radical transformation such as conscription and massive taxation . It would not be surprising if the EU were to react in a similar way. In dire need of more political unity, it would not be inconceivable that the Union push for reforms while the focus of attention lies elsewhere. Under the guise of survival and in the disorientation of Brexit, the EU may, in fact, become a more centralised power.
The battle cry of “More Europe” has been heard before. Former German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, and organisation’s such as the Future Group have proposed reforms for a more integrated Europe. The proposals include “more European power to determine economic and tax policies, common European foreign and security policy, smaller European Commission, elected president of Europe and a European army.” Some of these proposals are already coming to fruition with member states recently discussing the creation of an EU military operations headquarters. Talks having been renewed after having long been shut down and opposed by the British.
The possibility for Europe to reinvent itself in the guise of Brexit is very much real. Several prominent politicians have already claimed that the cure to the current morose atmosphere on the continent is to have more Europe. Old proposals and dreams of a United States of Europe are resurfacing in Brussels as proposals for more integration are being adopted. Talks of a common military operations headquarters may just be the start of further centralisation. The noise of rising nationalist parties and the disaster of Brexit are drowning out the subtle yet undeniable convulsions of federalists. Brexit may just be the opportunity needed to usher in old dreams of unity and integration.