The European Union in 2019 faces multiple pressures, including Brexit (the U.K. plan to leave the EU), trade issues between the union and its partners, the migration crisis, the growth of populism across the region, and a shaky relationship with the Trump administration. As part of the “2019: A Look Ahead” series, Wharton finance professor Joao Gomes and Garret Martin, a lecturer at the American University’s School of International Service, share their perspectives on the challenges the European Union faces this year.
The most urgent issue is Brexit, and on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s compromise proposal to leave the EU by March 29, 2019, all but collapsed as British MPs voted out her revised Brexit deal that aimed to smooth the exit process.
As for the larger ramifications of the vote, Gomes says the EU does not consider Brexit to be “an existential threat” anymore. “It is a little bit like a fire that has been contained,” he said. “It is a mess for the U.K., though. It is a mess they created, and they have to live with it.”
According to Gomes, 2019 will be “a year of transition” for the EU. “The Union has to come to grips with how it is going to work effectively with 27 countries at the table, or 28 maybe (if Brexit does not materialize).
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