European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is currently in the news for saying

We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty.

and statements from various specific nations back this up (at least France and The Netherlands).

What advantage is there to the EU to push this through right now? Wouldn't waiting for Scotland to make their moves and for a reelection be far more advantageous? A reelection could theoretically even mean the UK would stay (in the case that a party would make staying in the EU it's main campaigning point) and a more drawn out and careful process seems to be more advantageous to all parties economically. What am I missing?

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    To avoid nationalists to ask for referendum. And to avoid financial place to go down during an entire years, putting the entire Europe in recession (financial guys don't like incertitudes ;) )
    – Gautier C
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 22:36
  • "To avoid nationalists to ask for referendum" I don't get what you mean with that part. Uncertainty is definitely a bad thing, but isn't a rushed brexit even worse? Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 22:39
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    Britain, as a member of the EU has a big say in many decisions the EU is going to make. On many issues the decision is taken by consensus, so having Britain part of the system is a compromise the other EU members have to make, but then they also benefit from Britain being part of the EU. But now that it is clear that Britain is going to leave, this makes it difficult to have Britain sit a the table in Brussels dealing with EU affairs. Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 23:17
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    I think the reasons are more economical. The economy hates uncertainty. It prevents investors from making investments. The earlier the UK makes up their mind about their future actions the better for the economy.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 23:37
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    "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well, it were done quickly" - Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 7
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 18:24

2 Answers 2


The longer time is spent by the departure of the U.K. from the EU, the more this debate about the departure will be on the political radar of everybody which naturally makes the advocates of other "exits" more visible and important.

If the U.K. is fully removed from the EU soon, the EU officials may try to quickly restore the old "business-as-usual" pretending that nothing serious has happened, no changes in the EU are necessary, the U.K. has de facto never belonged to the EU so it's not a big deal, and the EU should continue along the pre-Brexit path.

It's similar to a boyfriend who is rejected by a girlfriend and wants to stay active. He may want to get rid of the memories as soon as possible because they may prevent him from finding a new girlfriend etc.

This is probably how the EU officials are really thinking (Merkel seems to be an exception, doesn't insist on speed) but it's highly disputable whether this strategy is realistic. There is a widespread opinion that the EU simply cannot continue along the same path towards ever deeper integration and ever greater arrogance of power that we observed before the referendum.

Everyone has realized how strong the voters in many countries actually are and that the Euroskepticism is very real. It is reasonable to expect that this newly discovered power of the Euroskeptics won't be forgotten. The Brits have created a precedent that won't go away. So in practice, it doesn't really matter how quickly the U.K. leaves the union.

In practice, the departure could be and should be much faster than David Cameron wants to suggest. The negotiations about the dissolution of Czechoslovakia only began after elections in mid 1992 and everything was absolutely ready by the end of the year 1992 – in less than 6 months – and new countries were fully created on January 1st, 1993. The exodus of cash from Slovakia caused concerns so the currencies had to be divided as well, just 6 weeks later, and it basically took just days of instant planning.

Czechoslovakia was a single country – the U.K. is just "vaguely affiliated" through the EU. So the U.K. departure could be expected to be simpler, not harder, than the Czechoslovak Velvet Divorce.

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    Czechoslovakia separated just after the fall of communism, at that time it was not yet well integrated in international organizations. Take e.g. the WTO, Slovakia became a member in 1995. But Britain is only an "indirect" member via the EU. For Britain to become a member after Brexit would require quite some work cnbc.com/2016/06/24/… Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 17:27
  • While the addressed problem is real, I doubt that this answer really holds true. Clarity and certainty are needed - would you want to wait until the UK government makes up its mind whether or not they will ignore the referendum? A drawn out exit serves neither side. The moment the exit-negotiations start, the UK vote in EU matters can be treated differently.
    – Chieron
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 14:59
  • Yes, if I were a European politician on the EU side of negotiations, I would surely allow the British to decide whether they want to ignite the article 50 and when. It's really their internal issue whether they want to ignore the referendum or take it into account, and how quickly. The situation is clear enough. There is now a people's decision that they want Brexit - and nothing else. This makes the U.K. somewhat unreliable or provisional EU member state but it's still a full member state, anyway. The EU laws make it clear that their membership must be respected at this moment - very clear. Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 15:02
  • And as MEP Zahradil pointed out, this is a decision that will influence years or decades or centuries to come. So trying to pretend that every 3 months are very important and pressure the U.K. to hurry up means to abandon their and our dignity. Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 15:05
  • @LubošMotl watching 3 months of tory- and labour- infighting will not help in the dignity matter. At the moment, EU parliament votes hinging on the UK would be awkward
    – Chieron
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 15:07

It's mainly because of the markets. The current situation is bad for the markets because of the uncertainties. The industry needs to know in what manner the UK-EU relationship continues (e.g will there be costums duties or a treaty of association). Until the new relations are not defined, the industry is not able to make long term predictions.

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    Which international investor in their right mind would invest in the UK now, when the future relationship with the EU is so uncertain? 2 years negotiations will be disruptive enough, 3 months added uncertainty do not help anyone.
    – Chieron
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 14:52
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    People invest in China even though it isn't associated with the EU. Why should the association with the EU a necessary condition for an investor? Most investments won't be affected by the U.K.-EU relationships (almost) at all. Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 15:06
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    @LubošMotl China is a big, growing market with cheap labor. The UK is a medium market that has access to the EU market. If they leave, that access is lost and their importance is suddenly reduced, making the investment worth less.
    – Chieron
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 15:09
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    It makes no sense, most businesses don't need any "access to the EU". To invest into the U.K. means to hire the Britons as the workers who do some job that needs to be done. What I, the investor, do with the products is up to me - so I had to have some markets to start with. Note that the EU only accounts for some 50% of British imports and exports and the percentage was going down recently. Also, the absolute size doesn't matter. One may equally invest to large, middle, and small countries. You're just inventing propaganda - but the Brits have said No to this propaganda. EU isn't essential. Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 15:18
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    @LubošMotl Of course they do. In China people know what to expect (even if the expectations and circumstances are not the best); But if one wants to make investments in the U.K. one cannot say what they have to expect after the exit; nobody can say how the conditions to make trade with continental Europe will have changed after the exit. For now, only two things are certain: 1.) the conditions will change, 2.) no one knows how they will change. Even a dictatorial regime offers better conditions.
    – BobbyPi
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 16:29

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