Europe at a Crossroads

In February 2019, the former President of Spain, Jose María Aznar, came to Brigham Young University to discuss the effects Brexit is leaving on Europe and the rest of the world.

PROVO, Utah (February 7, 2019) An international dignitary came to the BYU Provo campus. All the way from Spain, the former president came to discuss how Europe is at a crossroads after Brexit (Britain’s exit from the European Union). Aznar said that “Brexit is, and will be, a serious mistake both for the United Kingdom and for the rest of Europe.” He went on to say since the announcement of Brexit, there have been multiple negative effects on Europe including a rise in terrorism, immigration, and political radicalism. If this fear of such an economical power leaving the European Union is already having an effect on the economics and politics of countries within the EU before Brexit, what effects will we see once Brexit has been taken into effect? President Aznar stated, “being divided weakens us all.” The UN remaining together strengthens and protects the world from new and rising threats to the global economy.

Aznar went on to say that his core reason for why Brexit is a mistake lies in “our shared values.” “Democracy, freedom, and human rights are not mere elements of our social order,” but are rather “substantial to the dignity of every human being and to every single country of the Western World.” These values are the center of humanity’s achievements. 

President Aznar pointed out that Brexit is not the only threat to the economies of the EU, to the Euro, and to the end of the European Union. In Italy, support for the European Union is plummeting. Italians are blaming not poor leadership in Rome, but in Brussels for their economic troubles. Exacerbating the case is the Northern League Party, led by Mateo Slavini, wanting to increase government spending which would “put pressure on the country’s large budget deficit and break Europe’s own fiscal route.” In France, if Marine Le Penn of the National Front party wins the upcoming election, is likely to stop using the Euro—further weakening the currency and the economies of Europe. For Germany, the worry lies with Chancellor Angela Merkle’s decision to not run for reelection. As Germany has always been a political power of the EU, this, depending on who takes her place, is also likely to weaken the EU and to affect the economy.

“In view of the situation,” Aznar said, “I propose no less or more Europe—but a possible Europe.” While we could consider an international banking union, perfect free trade, or common energy policy, “Europe without its transatlantic component is not considerable.” Aznar went on to say that the alliance between the US and Europe “began the core of . . . the West.” He concluded that our alliance began out of necessity to “facilitate the rebuilding of war-torn Europe, [to] create a multilateral infrastructure for unprecedented global prosperity, and [to provide] a military infrastructure” After Brexit, these achievements will be less sustainable. Brexit is quickly approaching; watch for both how Europe continues to react and for a dip in the world’s economy as we come to terms with the new adjustment.

—Beverly Unrau, Editing and Publishing ’22