What’s Next: Hague Institute Experts React to Brexit

The results are in. And while Brexit has stunned the world, the next two years will be critical to determining its full implications. Will the EU experiment evolve or is this the beginning of the end? Our experts offer some reactions.

An Opportunity for The Netherlands

boudewijn“After Brexit there will be far less EU in the special relationship between London and Washington. Although a problem for the United Kingdom, it could be an opportunity for the Netherlands to redefine the transatlantic relationship.”

Boudewijn van Eenennaam, former Ambassador of Netherlands to Washington, D.C.

Consequences for the Western Balkans

nikola dimitrov“Today Europe woke up to a tectonic shift, amounting to the fall of the Berlin Wall but in the opposite direction. Its consequences for the Western Balkans largely depend on how Europe responds to this earthquake: fortify the common European house or see more blocks tumble. In the worst-case scenario, the absence of a tangible European perspective for the region might lead to destabilization. After all, would the Belgrade-Pristina agreement have ever seen the light of the day without the lure of EU membership prospects?”

Nikola Dimitrov, former Ambassador of Macedonia to the Netherlands

On the UK’s Negotiating Leverage

dr-aaron-matta“Today marks the single most consequential event in EU’s history. Its economic and political repercussions will affect generations to come. Although the UK referendum was of an advisory nature, which means that legally speaking the UK government is under no obligation to comply, politically speaking it is unthinkable to be ignored. Once the withdrawal mechanism – Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union – is activated, there will be no turning back, and this will start a two-year process of difficult and painful negotiations between the UK and the EU to find an alternative to membership. Leaving the EU would certainly put the UK in a weaker position having to renegotiate bilateral trade agreements with third countries without having the leverage of the EU’s economic power.”

Dr. Aaron Matta, Senior Researcher with the Rule of Law team

What’s next for EU Migration Policy?

manuella-appiah“The results of the referendum have complicated all aspects of EU decision making. As the implications of the vote to leave are unknown, one can only presume what the current gridlock would mean for the EU’s migration policy. Does Brexit close the UK border for vulnerable refugees arriving in the EU? What will be the fate of those in the ‘jungle’ moving forward? These are only some of the potential repercussions of Brexit I will be following.”

Manuella Appiah, Researcher on migration issues

An Opportunity for the EU

joris larik“Brexit is a heavy blow to the EU as a global actor, but not a fatal one. The UK was the EU’s largest military power and wields significant international clout. However, though diminished, the EU may well reemerge as a more agile player on the world stage, liberated from the constant British hesitations and objections about its foreign, security and defense policies. But for that to happen, the Union needs to snap free from a state of self-doubt and introspection.”

Dr. Joris Larik, Senior Researcher with Conflict Prevention team


The Hague Institute for Global Justice is an independent, nonpartisan institution established to undertake innovative interdisciplinary policy-relevant research, policy development and professional skills training on issues of peace, security and justice.

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