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Special relationships in flux: Brexit and the future of the US EU and US UK relationships

March 2016

Tim Oliver, Michael John Williams


The article analysis economic and political relationships between the United States and both the UK and European Union as a whole in an attempt to estimate potential effects of a UK exit from the EU. The article suggests that a UK exit is not likely to have any positive effects, but will have the largest toll on the UK itself. Further, a UK exit will possibly see the United States relationship with certain countries in the EU such as France and Germany strengthen, however the potential for political and security uncertainty could also lead to decreasing military support in Europe from the U.S. with a possible weakening of NATO. The article also estimates that with a leave, the UK will likely face a significant decrease in world power and influence. They also analyzed the possibility for a withdrawn UK to enter NAFTA, but determined such a result was very unlikely. The article also touches on potential changes to EU politics, noting that the UK was a major player in support of increased free-market trade liberalization and with its absence there could be a shift towards the economic left as France would have more influence. This in turn could hinder U.S. trade relation with the EU.

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Policy Implications

With the UK recently voting to leave the European Union, the future of U.S. relations in Europe seem uncertain. This article can be helpful in attempting to piece together potential effects of the vote on U.S. policies both in Europe and rest of the world. A possibility of a shifting support away from the UK and towards more Eastern European countries could dramatically alter the U.S. economy and new policies will need to be formulated as these shifts occur.

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