The UK’s decision to leave the EU marks a historic moment not just in the UK but also in Europe, as Britain was a major player in Brussels. When the UK voted in 2016, many were already warning that Brexit could inspire other countries to follow suit, posing a threat to the very existence of the bloc. Margot Wallstrom, then foreign affairs minister in Sweden, said that at the time that the vote “might affect other EU member states that will say: ‘Well, if they can leave, maybe we should also have referendums, and maybe we should also leave’”. This warning was echoed just under four years later, in January 2020, when the UK was preparing to officially leave the EU.
A German MEP from the Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament warned that the UK needed to change tack in order to prevent further departure from the bloc.
He said: “I somehow fear that Britain may not be the last member state to leave the European Union, but the first. If the EU does not change its political cause, more member states might follow.
“By persisting with austerity, and by putting corporate interests ahead of our citizens, governments allow big companies to dominate our lives and our politics.
“That dominance destroys our environment, economy, our public services, our streets, our local libraries, our railways, our post offices, our schools, our entire social fabric.
“So don’t be surprised that the next time we sit here to lament the departure of another member state. Britain may be the first, but it may not be the last. Brexit should be the wake-up call that we must finally put people and the planet before profit in Europe.”
Ulrike Guerot, an advocate for a ‘European Republic’, has emerged as a prominent critic of the EU despite believing in many of its principles.
READ MORE: EU’s ‘very existence under threat’ Italy’s Conte warned
Euroscepticism across the EU has seen many anti-Brussels parties rise to prominence in recent years.
This is noticeable in France, where President Emmanuel Macron looks set to once again take on right wing nationalist Marine Le Pen in 2022.
Eurosceptic pressure in Paris has also coincided with the rise of Matteo Salvini in Italy, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and the AfD in Germany.