Will Another Country Replace Britain In The EU? Brexit Has Opened Up A World Of Possibilities
While the United Kingdom celebrates (or mourns) the passage of the historic "Brexit" referendum that will begin the process of the island nation leaving the European Union, the EU has lost an important member. World politics spectators may be wondering: Will another country join the EU in Britain's place now that Brexit has passed?
While the EU will certainly have its hands full dealing with the fallout from the U.K.'s withdrawal, Brexit could potentially free up space in the union for other European nations, specifically those in the Balkan region of Southeastern Europe. Technically, first in line is Turkey, the site of the former Ottoman Empire who has began trying to join the then-European Economic Community in 1987, and in turn, the EU began talks with Turkey last December to bring them into the fold. After Turkey, the Balkan states of Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, and Serbia may be next to join the EU, with the latter getting the "green light" to join the EU by 2020.
Although Turkey is technically first in line to join the EU, many in Britain think Turkey's chances of joining the EU are slim due to fears of Muslim terrorism and the overall differences in religion and culture between Western Europe and Turkey, as well as the drawn-out accession process to join the EU, which took former Eastern Bloc countries like Hungary and Poland 10 years. While Turkey joining the EU has been on the table for nearly three decades, it may not happen anytime soon.
Ahead of the Brexit vote, British Prime Minister David Cameron slammed Turkey's apparent lack of advancement in the accession process, saying that at their slow rate of progress, they will join the EU "in the year 3000." The claim seemed to be a political move on Cameron's part, as he mainly used criticisms of Turkey's lack of accession progress (they have only completed one of the 72 requirements to join the EU since formally applying in 2005) to refute a claim made by pro-leave activists who said Britain would have no veto power in deciding whether or not Turkey can join the EU.
Apparently inflamed by the British PM's remarks, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey could have their own "Brexit"-style referendum to decide whether or not to continue with EU accession.
As Europe and the rest of the world try to figure out what to do now that Brexit is a go, Turkey may become another of the casualties lost in the island nation's decision to leave the EU.