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What ‘Brexit’ is About

June 15, 2016
Plain English Version
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The people of Britain are going to vote on whether to stay in the European Union (EU). Observers call it the Brexit vote. The vote is next Thursday, June 23, 2016.

The outcome is uncertain. No matter which way the vote goes. If the vote is to exit, no one knows for sure what will happen.

The EU goes back to the end of World War II. When the war was over, the European nations knew they had to change the way they did business with each other. The goal was that there never be another war in Europe. The ‘Common Market’ came into being in 1957. Britain joined in 1973.

The Common Market became the European Union in 1993. Currently, Twenty-eight countries are members of the EU.

The EU ended border controls. Passports are no longer needed to travel within the member countries of the EU.  It was a grand alliance.

The euro (€) is the common currency of the EU. Britain kept its currency, the pound (£).

In short Europe wanted to resemble the United States. Ideas and people could travel throughout the EU.

Two events have gotten in the way of the grand alliance. The Great Recession of 2008 is one. The mass migration of people from the Middle East and Africa is the other.

Greece ran into big money trouble. Spain and Portugal were not far behind. The EU had to decide if it would help them out. Germany is the richest country in the EU. It took a conservative position. It demanded economic reforms before it would release funds to Greece. The euro is the only currency. It is difficult for any one country to take steps to solve its financial problems.

Mass migration is an even bigger problem. Open borders made it easy for migrants who were able to get to Europe to then move through Europe. They could go to any destination they sought. The influx of foreigners came in the middle of the financial downturn. It began to make people in Britain and other countries nervous.

Most people think Great Britain will stay in the EU. That would be good news. What will happen if Britain votes to leave? That remains an unknown.

Source: The New York Times June 7, 2016

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