Almost five years after Britain voted to leave the European Union, the bloc faces an existential question: which, if any, of the remaining 27 countries will be next?
European cohesion is threatened by a range of serious issues; some internal, some external. Mass migration and the challenge it poses to integration remains the most daunting challenge. Last year may have seen a lull in migrant crossings as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they are ramping back up, largely from Libya. (Indeed, it is surely only a matter of time before politicians fall prey to their usual smoke and mirrors rhetoric about the “benefits” of mass migration in the context of an ageing population, without much credence given to concerns for cultural integration or assimilation.)
Meanwhile, the EU remains plagued by recurrent tensions over its pandemic response, particularly in regard to vaccine distribution. The European Recovery Fund also had a shaky path to approval, which left many member-states dissatisfied.
But will another member state leave? If you believe the bookies, the odds-on favourite is Italy (available at 3/1) — followed by Greece (6/1) and France (8/1). But as the Brexit referendum demonstrated, the bookies don’t always make the right call — and it would be unwise to rule out the country sitting in fourth place: the Netherlands (12/1). In fact, I believe it’s a strong contender.
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