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Britain backs Brexit, Cameron to resign

APTOPIX Britain Election

Britain has spoken – and it has voted to leave the European Union, bringing an end to the premiership of David Cameron.

The sensational result – which confounded the eve-of-poll opinion polls and the betting markets – was announced early on Friday morning.

Click for referendum reaction

52% of voters elected to Leave the European Union, while 48% opted to Remain. With a high turnout of 72%, early indications suggest that the Eurosceptic vote by blue-collar Labour voters has far exceeded expectations and proven a pivotal factor in the outcome.

So what happens next? While this unprecedented vote means no-one really knows, here are six things to look for over the coming days and weeks.

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Brussels Brexit Briefing – 19th July

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Key EU figures have put pressure on Theresa May to move fast to quit the EU. European Parliament President Martin Schulz called on her to invoke Article 50 after the summer, saying her government must give “the utmost consideration” to the European Parliament, which has the power to veto the UK’s EU divorce and any future trade deal. In an article for the Guardian, Mr Schulz called for talks to begin “without rancour” and for Britain to be thought of as a beloved relative leaving home rather than a treacherous renegade.

However, EU officials have acknowledged they have no powers to force the UK to trigger Article 50. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, at a summit in China, offered conciliatory words for Mrs May, saying that the UK will face no “hate” or “revenge” during the Brexit talks. “I will not negotiate with Britain in a hostile mood. We have been partners in the EU for 40 years. We are allied countries, most of us in the North Atlantic Alliance,” he said.

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Were “free” banknotes enough to sway Swiss voters?

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Swiss citizens recently took part in a ballot, voting on five separate issues. With a 46% turnout, the public followed the advice of the Federal Council, hoping to ensure a solid long term impact on the economy.

Amongst the differing issues, the most notable case which generated a lot of attention, not only on a national scale but on a global one too, was the issue concerning a basic income for all.

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Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is put to the test

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Local elections in Italy

The rise of the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement (M5S), founded by comedian Beppe Grillo in 2009, has now become a challenge to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s power.

In June, citizens voted to elect mayors and town councillors of several cities across Italy, including Rome, Turin, Milan and Bologna.
These are the main results of the elections:
• M5S, which has largely been seen as a protest movement in the past years, has now become Italy’s second largest party
• M5S won in 19 out of 20 cities, where its candidates stood for mayor
• There was a general loss of consensus for Matteo Renzi’s centre-left party (Democratic Party, PD), although it held onto power in Milan, Italy’s financial capital and in the northern city of Bologna, by beating the centre-right candidates

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Health policy

Pipette and  Petri dish

A case study for post-Brexit EU policy-making?

The UK vote to leave the European Union in the referendum on 23 June has cast significant uncertainty regarding both the institutional consequences of the vote and the general political direction the European Union will adopt in the run-up to and after a Brexit.

In the field of healthcare, the location of the European Medicines Agency and economic implications for the pharmaceutical industry have already been identified as key post-Brexit challenges. A broader question, however arises regarding the changing dynamics one can expect at EU level on a number of key health dossiers and the impact of Brexit on the general EU approach to health policy.

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Brexit Briefing – 5th July

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Brexit Briefing – 5th July

The Conservative Party starts to choose Britain’s next Prime Minister

Following the shock result of the Brexit referendum, and the subsequent resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, the Conservative Party has begun the process of selecting a new leader and, therefore, Prime Minister.

There are currently 5 candidates running in the contest, and these will be whittled down to 2 in a series of ballots of Conservative MPs, over the next week. By Tuesday 12 July, there will be two candidates between whom Conservative Party members around the country will choose, on the basis of one member one vote. The result of the leadership election is due to be announced on 9th September.

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Clouds over Warsaw

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The forthcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw comes at a crucial time in Europe’s history. Already described a few weeks ago by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg as a turning point, the summit now also has to deal with the fallout from Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

The outcome of the UK referendum came as a shock to most of Europe’s elites, and marks a new low point in European integration and cohesion. The EU’s future development is threatened from within by the rise of nationalist, extremist and populist forces, while it has so far comprehensively failed to deal with the external threats and challenges of terrorism and mass migration from the Middle East and northern Africa.

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Spaniards give centre-right a second chance

Spain flag

Spain’s conservative People’s Party (PP) strengthened its position in parliamentary elections on 26 June, the second such poll in just over six months.

Arise in support for the centre-right had been predicted, but the increase, of 14 seats, was unexpected. The PP was the only party to win more MPs.

But the PP did not win an absolute majority, and needs an agreement with other parties to govern. However, the results give the PP more legitimacy, and a path to power – possibly backed by the centrist Citizens party (C’s) and with the acquiescence of the Socialists (PSOE).

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Referendum reaction

Berlaymont_building_european_commission

European Union leaders

Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, Mark Rutte, Holder of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, issued a joint statement on the outcome of the referendum.

The said that they “regret this decision but respect it. This is an unprecedented situation but we are united in our response. We will stand strong and uphold the EU’s core values of promoting peace and the well-being of its peoples. The Union of 27 Member States will continue.”

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People’s Meetings: a new forum for democratic engagement?

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In Spring 2015, Europeans were asked to what extent they would agree with the statement: “My voice counts in the European Union”

In just 13 countries did the Eurobarometer survey find a majority agreeing with that statement. Swedes (69 per cent in agreement) and Danes (68 per cent) led the way.

There are no doubt historical, cultural and political reasons for this high level of trust in these two Scandinavian nations. But certain initiatives also play their role. One such initiative is ‘People’s Meetings’.

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