The U.S.-based global intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, said "There will be four Europes," in its Decade Forecast published in February 2015, in which it predicts the world's political and economic developments over the next 10 years. It was one of the many chilling projections Stratfor made regarding 2015 to 2025. The four Europes, i.e., Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the British Isles, which will be estranged from one another, will still have to share the same neighborhood, but they will not be as closely connected as they were before, according to Stratfor.
"The European Union might survive in some sense, but European economic, political, and military relations will be governed primarily by bilateral or limited multilateral relationships that will be small in scope and not binding. Some states might maintain a residual membership in a highly modified European Union, but this will not define Europe," the report said.
I usually do not take into account such reports, as 10 years is a long time, but I try to keep them in mind. When the report was published, Europe might not have seemed as powerful and promising as it was a couple of years ago, but still it did not look like it had already entered an age of disintegration. Even when Greece's EU membership was being discussed, when the country was on the verge of bankruptcy, Euroscepticism was not this high.
Eurosceptics have been speaking of Brussels's excessive influence over EU countries' political and economic issues for a long while. They have been asking for more state control over their own laws and regulations – in a word, the problem has been sovereignty. Europe's far right has also been on the rise. But since the security of borders was not an issue at that time, Stratfor's forecast was a bit extreme to me.
And yet here it is: Britain is set to have a referendum to decide whether to leave or stay in the EU next week. If the British vote to leave the EU on June 23, it looks like a domino effect is inevitable. Even a decision for a referendum alone has already had a triggering effect throughout Europe. According to politicians and political analysts, similar referendums in other countries like Italy, France or the Netherlands, which is a close ally of Britain, would cause greater uncertainty than the Brexit. Surveys also show that public support for the EU in EU countries is in a freefall. For example, a survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center published last week reveals that the rate of those who have a favorable view of the EU in Germany went from 8 percent to 50 percent compared to last year, in Spain by 16 percent to 47 percent, in the U.K. by 7 percent to 44 percent, and in France by 17 percent to 38 percent. In Greece, the rate of those has hit rock bottom at 27 percent.
Let's face it, the real reason behind the EU being dragged to this point so fast is the influx of refugees and migrants that started last year and the way the EU chose to deal with the worst humanitarian crisis of our era. For example, Brexit supporters argue that Britain has to have tighter control over its own borders against the waves of migration from Continental Europe. Moreover, even if the British decide in the referendum to stay in the EU, the U.K. is going to have a special relationship with the EU on the subjects of sovereignty, economy and migration among other areas, according to the agreement British Prime Minister David Cameron reached with EU leaders shortly after the elections that he won by promising the EU referendum to his voters. It means the number of refugees from the rest of the EU to the U.K. will be limited and controls over travelers to Britain or migrant workers in the country will be tightened. I wonder if such measures will not make the Eurosceptics in continental Europe anxious and jealous.
It took only one year for us to see that the EU dream can turn into a nightmare. Statements we frequently heard prior to the refugee deal between Turkey and the EU such as that the EU is on the brink of a collapse, appear to be much more than rhetoric. Europeans have defended their unmerciful acts and policies against refugees in terms of protecting European values, and yet it has led to the rise of xenophobia, anti-migration sentiments and Islamophobia. They want to protect Europe, but the EU is shattering now, and the end of the EU is coming closer.
The EU's amazing force was based on dissolving borders between countries, lifting political and economic barriers and therefore decreasing regionalism and nationalism in Europe. But they are all coming back now. You may think the EU has failed the test of human rights, but I assure you, we have not seen anything yet.