In a referendum on June 24, 2016 the UK voted to leave the EU. iAffairs’ managing director Katarina Koleva talked to Achim Hurrelmann, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (EURUS) and asked about his thoughts on Brexit and its consequences for Britain, Canada and the EU.

According to Professor Hurrelmann, it is really pity that the UK is leaving the EU because Britain has been an important European power that should be part of the common European project. At the same time, Great Britain has always been reluctant contributor to European integration. In this respect, Brexit was not a total surprise to Professor Hurrelmann, but obviously it was a major blow for the European integration project.

Is Brexit an end of the European project or rather, a new opportunity? Professor Hurrelmann believes it is definitely a lesson that something has to change. The EU has to find a way to indicate and more clearly communicate why it is actually beneficial, even to the Eurosceptics. This may entail that actually more European projects are developed to help poor and less educated people. The fact that there are “losers” of the EU project cannot be overlooked.

As for Canada, it will lose the UK as an obvious access point to Europe. In terms of trade, the CETA agreement, which is in process of ratification, according to Professor Hurrelmann, will most likely move forward, but a new form of bilateral trade agreement between Canada and Britain would have to be established.

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