Europeans across the English Channel are nervously watching Britain’s debate over Brexit, fearful of what the United Kingdom’s divorce from the European Union will mean for their decades-old economic and political bloc.
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Dec. 11 delayed a parliamentary vote on her Brexit plan, saying it would not pass. So Britain’s withdrawal from the EU remains a work in progress, two years after Britons in June 2016 voted to sever economic and political ties.
Back then, many EU observers feared other countries to follow Britain’s lead and exit the European Union, weakening the bloc to the point of collapse. And while the financial consequences of Brexit – whenever it happens – will surely be felt across the continent, popular support for the European Union may be more resilient than it once seemed.
New research shows that the 2016 Brexit vote actually had a positive effect on European integration, boosting the EU’s popularity. Paradoxically, so did the election of Donald Trump as United States president, our polling analysis shows.
Both cataclysmic events were widely expected to increase political divisions within Europe by empowering the EU’s nationalist critics. Instead, after Brexit, Europeans’ feelings toward the EU became more favorable, surveys from the Pew Research Center, Bertelsmann Foundation and the European Commission show.