Following the British referendum of June 2016, which saw a majority of votes cast in favour of Brexit, on 29 March 2017 Article 50 of the European Union (EU) Treaty was triggered in order to settle the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU. London has two years to work with the 27 other member countries on the UK’s effective exit from the Union.
Above and beyond its economic and social consequences, which have received copious mention and comment, Brexit could also lead to a return of conflict in Europe, as is highlighted in this column by Jean-François Drevet. One of the challenges the EU has risen to most effectively since its creation has undoubtedly been the maintenance of peace on the European continent, yet that pertains not only to relations between the founder members (beginning with France, Italy and Germany) but also to the settling of a number of territorial disputes involving the United Kingdom, both in its multi-national structure and in its relations with other European states. Brexit could revive a number of these conflicts which EU membership had helped to ease — particularly disputes over Cyprus, Gibraltar and Northern Ireland. This point, illustrated in this column, is one that British and European negotiators will have to keep in mind when the details of the UK’s exit are being worked out.