After yet another turbulent post-Brexit week, which saw Nigel Farage step down as the leader of UKIP, both Brussels as well as London are being kept busy with the aftermath of referendum. No matter what the outcome of the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union will be, it could already be seen that two important shifts in European politics are taking place. On the one hand, a shift of the power balance between the different Member States could be expected, whereas on the other hand the European political arena has possibly made another step in the direction of a more political European Union.
The departure of the UK will probably mean a shift in the power balance between the 27 Member States. A proponent of a liberalized market, the UK has left a vacuum that could be filled in by economic allies of the UK, such as The Netherlands and Ireland. The latter also might play a bigger role on the European stage due to possible relocations of financial institutions from the City to Dublin, and its native-English advantage. However, liberalized economic policies at the Council level will be difficult for both The Netherlands and Ireland without its biggest ally. Also interesting to watch at the Council level will be the relations between Germany, France and Italy. As Founding Members and powerful economic as well as symbolic forces of European integration, these large Member States might push for a stronger, more political European Union, without the Eurosceptic voice that the United Kingdom usually counterweighted.
Politically speaking, we canalready observe an important development at the European level. Since June 23rd, the world seems to be watching the European Union more and more as a political institution. National news channels were dominated by the extraordinary plenary session in the European Parliament on Brexit. A joint statement by Schulz (President of the European Parliament), Tusk (President of the European Council) and Juncker (President of the European Commission) show how coordinated and united all Institutions currently act at the EU-level act. Even though Member States focus predominantly on political news from their capitals as opposed to Brussels, more and more attention is being given to political institutions at the EU-level. Will Brexit foster the political coming of age of the European Union? Only time will tell.