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Europeans React to Britain's Decision to Leave the EU

"All of Europe's conservative parties congratulated the UK this morning. If that's not a bad sign, what is?"
June 24, 2016, 1:45pm

Yesterday, Britain denied the warm/stifling embrace of the European Union. Europe didn't really see this break-up coming—or rather refused to take Britain's threats to leave seriously—and there's no telling whether we can all remain friends. We got in touch with VICE's European offices (whether they're in member states or not) to find out how young people feel about this morning's news.

ITALY

Beatrice, 24, Milan, student I couldn't believe the results this morning—I'm very worried. Personally, my plan was to go to the UK once I graduated but now I definitely have to rethink my plans. I am afraid this is the beginning of the end for the European Union, there will surely be a domino effect. I can't say that the EU is perfect but leaving seems foolish. I hope we'll never have the same referendum in Italy, because I'm afraid it will have the same result.

GERMANY

Jeff, 31, Berlin, dancer I honestly never expected this to happen, and I can't really see where the EU is going now. It's so surprising that they managed to get a majority—even if it's just barely.

Frankly, I think the UK are being a little arrogant and that makes me feel uneasy. I also think some countries might try to do the same now, which would be really sad. Personally, I enjoy the benefits that come with being a member of the EU—like how easy traveling is and not having to exchange money in most countries. Well, OK, Britain has always been the exception in that.

GREECE

Anna Piliou, 26, Athens, LGBT activist I am totally in favor of a Brexit, but the result of the referendum is bittersweet for me. In our Greek referendum on the bailout terms, the majority voted NO and the working classes took to the streets. In Britain, leftist organizations exhibited a ridiculous indifference and handed over the leave vote to the far-right. Brexit belongs in its entirety to the workers, the poor and the middle class—to the people who made the United Kingdom the place it is today. The EU, in its current state, has nothing to offer the European people—it shows no respect for minorities or human rights. It operates on the basis of economic power and it has lost sight of its founding principles. That's why I am all for the UK leaving the EU—and I want Greece and other countries to follow suit."

FRANCE

Benjamin, 28, Paris, entrepreneur I am pretty stunned. I didn't expect this at all. But when you think about it, I can understand why the Brits wanted to leave the EU. They were inside that organization without some of its inconveniences—such as the Euro—and they didn't want to pay for the decisions of others. Even if they are pretty strong economically, I suppose they are worried about the migrant crisis. It will be interesting to see if their attitude changes, when everything starts getting better within the EU. Are they going to regret their decision? This referendum means the European Union has to change. If it doesn't change, that means EU bureaucrats have no understanding of what it really is like to live in any of the 28 member states. There's never going to be a European federation. Maybe the EU should moderate its ambitions, and try to be efficient in some very specific areas.

THE NETHERLANDS

Dorsa, 22, Amsterdam, student What did the Brits base their vote on? Don't they like the EU? Have they read into the consequences at all? I feel a lot of people have gone with their gut on this one. I hoped the UK would have voted to remain but I feel they never really cared that much about the EU anyway. The main thing I'm worried about is that the financial balance might shift, because the British economy was one of the strongest in the EU.

POLAND

Marcin, 37, Warsaw, musician It's hard to say what's going to happen—we'll just have to wait and see what happens in a year's time. But I guess it's going to be a bit of a mess. I think that the British finally woke up and saw that it's not the EU that's in charge, but the banks and the Big Pharma. They just wanted to fight for what's theirs. After this, the EU should undergo some huge reforms so it can keep running smoothly. Things have been going sideways and the British are the first to point that out. I'm afraid that Germany and France could follow Britain's suit and then everything will just fall apart.

AUSTRIA

Wenting, 22, Student

I don't think this is good at all. Germany is now going to be the biggest player and, in my opinion, that's not to the benefit of any other country. In fact, it could become a major problem for the remaining EU member states. Europe is going to break.

DENMARK

Christine, 27, Copenhagen, musicology student

I am shocked. What is happening? It is deeply, deeply sad that the UK has chosen to turn its back on Europe. I've just come back from an Erasmus exchange in Leeds, and I can't help but think how sad it would be if future generations of European students no longer enjoy the same opportunities to study in the UK—and vice versa. The really sad thing, though, is that Brexit will add fuel to the populistic fire burning in Europe. Right-wing nationalists all over Europe—also here in Denmark—will see this as an opportunity to take similar steps away from the culture of unity and cooperation. This is utterly disturbing.

SPAIN

Joan Manuel, 20, Madrid, PR and waiter I had heard that Britain was having a referendum about the European Union, but I hadn't heard the result until now. I mean, it's just one country leaving, and I doubt that it will affect the euro. The only real problem for me is that now it will be harder to travel to the UK.

SERBIA

Ana, 19, Belgrade, student Nobody knows what's going to happen now. It's possible that new countries can become members of the European Union faster. I think the EU will be worse off than Britain after the referendum, but the UK won't do that well either. What worries me most, actually, is what's going to happen with the filming of the new season of Game of Thrones. They said they might have to leave Serbia and shoot more in Ireland, and that would be terrible because I'm a big fan.

SWITZERLAND

Yael, 22, Zurich, student I don't know much about the economics surrounding a Brexit but the whole thing gives me a bad feeling. I sense that the Brexit will not be of any advantage to Europe nor the UK, although I can't really sensibly argue why. All of Europe's conservative parties congratulated the UK this morning. If that's not a bad sign, what is? I wish British people in the UK would have voted differently, but I don't think the European Union will fall apart.

PORTUGAL

Cláudia, 28, Lisbon, marketing manager This outcome is very worrying but I'm curious to see what the future will look like. I was hoping the Brits would think of Jo Cox's words before voting: "We have far more in common with each other than things that divide us." But it would be useless to panic or make predictions about the future now. We just need to keep calm and see what happens in the next two years. It's crucial that we all reflect on the result of this referendum, we need to consider what's not going well in the EU. We tend to forget that different countries work at different speeds—what works for one country, might not work for the other.

ROMANIA

Laurenţiu, 24, Bucharest, student I don't think a Brexit will really affect me. The result was to be expected—the UK is a nation with a strong economy and it has to support a lot of weaker ones. This will probably limit the job market for Romanians in Britain, but it's their choice. The EU is not a prison.

To see all our coverage of the UK's EU Referendum, check out Europe: The Final Countdown.