If you have kept up with recent events, you should know by now that Britain plans to exit the European Union by 2019. For context, the European Union (EU) is a political and economical union of 28 (27 after Britain leaves) states in Europe. Within the Union, states can trade without tariffs or limitations, and the majority are members of the Schengen area, where people can move freely between state borders with no restrictions. Members of the Union include France, Britain, and Germany.
The controversial British exit, abbreviated Brexit, could seriously upset stability on the multicultural European continent. With the world’s 5th largest economy leaving, the exit may be crucial in setting an example for other countries within the EU in deciding whether to remain or, “exit.” In simpler terms, though unlikely, Brexit could trigger a domino effect of EU member states exiting the union, and ultimately an EU collapse.
Britain’s exit from the EU has exacerbated apprehension and tension in the recent France presidential elections. The French election, primarily between candidates Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, was instrumental in determining whether France would remain or leave the EU.
Macron is considered a centrist, advocating for free market economic policies, pro-immigration (including Muslims) within Europe, and a supporter of France’s continued and involved existence within the EU. Meanwhile, Le Pen, a far right candidate, has pushed for an exit from the EU, reinstating and substantial tightening of French immigration and border controls, and stricter guidelines for current immigrants in France.
France’s Essential Role in the Domino
If Le Pen had won over Macron in France’s presidential elections on May 7th, the far right candidate may have spelled certain disaster for the 28-state EU. A France exit right behind Britain’s would prove a powerful trigger for a domino-like collapse of the union.
For now, Macron has won the French elections. What that spells for France’s future is uncertain, but the structure of Europe and the EU are not set to change dramatically anytime soon. With Macron garnering a more than 1.5 times the percentage of Le Pen in votes (62 to 38%, Financial Times), one can assume the majority of French voters still support a EU. However, the election (one of the closest in late French history) demonstrates just how quickly Europe can change, and reminds us of the continually shifting nature of this world.