European Western Balkans

Ker-Lindsay: Brexit would take us into "unmapped territory"

LONDON – If the UK votes to remain in the EU, not much will change for Europe or the Balkans, whereas a Brexit vote would “take us into completely unmapped territory,” James Ker-Lindsay, a Balkans expert with the London School of Economics, says ahead of the June 23 British EU referendum.
Asked how the outcome of the referendum would affect the Balkans, Ker-Lindsay told Tanjug that he does not expect to see “many changes in the short term” if the UK votes to stay.
“I think the enlargement process will continue as it is already. The one big difference is that the UK could become even less of an advocate for enlargement,” he said.
“The question of EU expansion has played a far more prominent role in the referendum campaign than many expected. Even though most of the hostility to further growth in members has been directed at Turkey, the Balkans has also entered into the debate,” he said.
“This means that London will not want to suddenly be seen to push the case for enlargement after having told voters that it will not happen quickly. As well as being less keen to advocate enlargement, I also suspect that this means that the UK will become much stricter on the entry criteria in future. This will make membership harder to achieve”, he added. 
“Lastly, Britain will also almost certainly introduce transitional controls on freedom of movement once the countries of the Western Balkans join,” Ker-Lindsay noted.
“In the event of a Brexit, it is very hard to tell what will happen. Again, much will depend on how the EU decides to respond. It could try to show that the European project is alive and well and still attractive to candidates. This could see a concerted effort to speed up enlargement,” he said. 
“Alternatively, it could use it to pursue far greater integration. This would make enlargement even more difficult as there will be even more obstacles to overcome to catch up a more integrated EU,” Ker-Lindsay said. 

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