Geopolitical change is reshaping Britain’s place in Europe, and Europe’s place in the world. War in Europe has given renewed significance to institutions such as NATO that straddle the divide, and spurs new ones such as the European Political Community. Britain finds itself not on the periphery, but thrust together with EU states and neighbours such as Ukraine and Turkey. Economic sanctions accelerate a wider process of economic de-globalisation and realignment, changing how European economies relate to Asia and North America. Energy insecurity redraws the map of cooperation and the flows of trade, finance and investment, a process climate change looks set to continue. New patterns of migration are emerging, and new conflicts about who belongs where.
Britain’s exit from the European Union has certainly transformed many of its ties to the continent. Yet as geopolitical concerns rise up the agenda, it is equally clear that it has not altogether broken them. The EU is at the heart of many of these transformations, as it tries to adapt to a world in which politics, geopolitics and economics are inseparable. What policies it pursues, and how it decides on them, are as central to the future of Europe as ever. But just as the EU emerged in the 1950s as an effort to transcend the divisions of war-torn Europe, today’s crises are spurring new ties that criss-cross its boundaries.
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