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This content is taken from the The University of Edinburgh's online course, Towards Brexit? The UK's EU Referendum. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds The result of the UK’s EU referendum will have impact on the European Union as well. This will be the first time that an existing Member State will leave the EU. It sets a precedent that an EU Member State can leave, and it reverses the seemingly one-directional trend towards ever more integration. Although it has always been possible that country could leave the EU, many people had come to think of the EU as permanent and largely irreversible. The UK’s exit from the EU will end that perception. Additionally, the UK has been one of the EU’s largest and most powerful members. Its departure will certainly diminish the standing of the EU internationally.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 seconds The question then becomes: How likely is it that other EU Member States will have debates, and possibly referendums, on their EU membership? Could the EU itself start to unravel? Many Member States already have movements calling for full debates on EU membership. There would only really be referendums if governments decided to do that, or if they made manifesto commitments to do so in forthcoming elections. Such a prospect could arise in future, if arguments against EU membership advance in the aftermath of the UK’s vote. The priority for the remainder of the European Union in the short-term will be to stabilise itself. In the medium-term, it is certainly likely that its members will consider how the project should develop moving forward.

Skip to 1 minute and 19 seconds On one the one hand, with the UK gone, it would presumably be much easier for other countries to push ahead with the deeper integration that the UK always objected to. On the other hand, those same movements against EU integration in other states serve as a reminder that people across Europe want to see the EU change - perhaps do less and return more power back to states. There will also be a number of concerns specifically around the UK. What kind of arrangement will the UK be looking for with the EU? What will the remaining Member States be willing to offer? Future economic arrangements will be central for the UK, and this will be important for the EU as well.

Skip to 1 minute and 57 seconds The status of EU citizens currently living in the UK, as well as UK citizens currently living in the EU, will also be a priority. While the European Union has faced a number of existential moments, it has never been confronted with a challenge like this. The objective for the rest of the EU will simply be to keep the current project together. We will see in the coming months how the EU adapts to a loss of a major Member State.

Basics: Ripple effect

Anthony Salamone explains the impact of the EU referendum on the European Union.

(Videographer: Kara Johnston)

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This video is from the free online course:

Towards Brexit? The UK's EU Referendum

The University of Edinburgh