Earth & Conservation

Will The UK Brexit Vote Disrupt The EU?

On June 23, the UK votes to decide whether to stay or leave the European Union. With euroscepticism on the rise, who else may follow?

Later this week, voters in Britain will decide in a referendum whether or not to remain in the European Union. One way or another, June 23 will be a red letter day for Europe. Britain's departure would necessarily destabilize the EU -- and it might inspire other countries to follow suit.

As Jules Suzdaltsev explains in today's Seeker Daily update, the stakes are very high indeed. The potential British exit from the EU is referred to as the Brexit, which is a rather unwieldy contraction, but we can live with it. Unfortunately, it's inspired other awkward nicknames. The Czech Republic is considering the "Chechzit," which isn't too bad, but Denmark's "Denxit" should not be tolerated in a civilized world.

But seriously, the Brexit referendum could trigger a domino effect that would have profound consequences for the entire continent. Opposition to the European Union has been around since the founding of the institution in 1993. So-called "euroskeptics" believe that the EU is too bureaucratic and slow-moving, and -- more recently -- that its open border policies are exacerbating Europe's growing migrant crisis.

RELATED: What Is the Brexit Debate About?

Right-wing groups have championed the euroskeptic cause, particularly in Denmark, the country most likely to follow Britain in abandoning the EU. According to a May 2016 poll, anti-EU sentiment is growing quickly -- 42 percent of Danes now want to hold their own national referendum, up from just 37 percent at the beginning of the year.

Voters in the Netherlands have expressed desire for a similar referendum. Right-wing politicians with the increasingly popular Party for Freedom faction complain that Dutch taxpayers are picking up the slack for troubled EU nations like Spain and Greece. Far-right politician Geert Wilders -- sometimes called the Donald Trump of the Netherlands -- has called the EU a "totalitarian monster." Also like Trump, he has called for a total ban on Muslim immigration.

Other countries are considering referendums, too -- including France, Sweden and Greece. While it's unlikely that any of these countries would secede in the short term, a British exit would give member states leverage to renegotiate terms with the EU and ultimately weaken the institution.

In any case, the numbers aren't trending well for EU supporters: In a 2016 Pew poll of European citizens, nearly half of respondents had an unfavorable view of the 28-member European Union. Uh-oh.

-- Glenn McDonald

Learn More:

The Guardian: Given the facts the UK should stay in the EU

Politico: Brexit 'could lead to Czexit'

Fortune: Could Denmark Be the Next Nation to Bail On the EU?

New York Times: Rise of Far-Right Party in Denmark Reflects Europe's Unease